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Child abuse inquiry says orphanages were places of ‘threat and abuse’

Image caption The Smyllum Park Orphanage closed in 1981

Children at Smyllum Park orphanage were sexually abused and beaten with leather straps, hairbrushes and crucifixes, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has found.

Nuns belonging to the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul ran the Catholic Children's home near Lanark, as well as Bellevue House, Rutherglen.

Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry, has published a report on evidence heard during the case study.

She said the homes were places of fear, threat, and excessive discipline.

The judge said emotional, physical and sexual abuse took place.

The children found "no love, no compassion, no dignity and no comfort," she said.

What is the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry?

Image copyright Nick Mailer
Image caption The inquiry is chaired by High Court judge Lady Smith

The inquiry was set up in October 2015 to look at the historical abuse of children in care across Scotland.

It is currently in the process of looking at allegations of physical and sexual abuse at 86 institutions, including former children's homes and leading boarding schools.

The inquiry, which has cost £15.67m so far, was originally scheduled to end next year but the Scottish government has since said it can take as long as it needs.

From the end of November last year, the child abuse inquiry heard case study evidence over 20 days about the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

A total of 54 witnesses told of their experiences at Smyllum Park, which closed in 1981, and Bellevue House, which closed in 1961, and 21 written statements were submitted.

What did the inquiry report say?

Lady Smith's interim report into the Smyllum and BelleVue case studies concluded:

  • Children were abused while in the care of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
  • They were sexually abused in Smyllum by priests, a trainee priest, nuns, members of staff and a volunteer. The abuse was, in some cases, prolonged.
  • There was also problematic sexual behaviour by other children.
  • Children were hit with implements, the punishment being either excessive or for reasons which the child could not fathom.
  • The implements used included leather straps, the "Lochgelly Tawse," hairbrushes, sticks, footwear, rosary beads, wooden crucifixes and a dog's lead.
  • For some children, being hit was a normal aspect of daily life.
  • The physical punishments meted out to children went beyond what was acceptable at the time whether as punishment in schools or in the home.
  • Children who were bed-wetters were abused physically and emotionally.
  • They were beaten, put in cold baths and humiliated in ways that included "wearing" their wet sheets and being subjected to hurtful name-calling by Sisters and by other children.
  • Many children were force-fed.
  • Children were used as unpaid labour.
  • Many children were forced to queue in a state of undress for a bath and shared bathwater that was too hot or cold and dirty.
  • There was no system for marking children's birthdays. Some children didn't know when their birthday was.
  • Children were abused for being left-handed and forced to use their right hands instead.
  • Some were abused for being Protestants and one child was told the Jewishness would be knocked out of him

The report names Charlie Forsyth, a former Smyllum resident who went on to work in the home, as someone who physically and emotionally abused children.

Forsyth, who is now dead, was said to have given out violent, angry beatings and called the children demeaning.

It was said that he had complete autonomy.

Lady Smith's report also highlights the case of Samuel Carr, a child in Smyllum, who died aged six as a result of contracting a severe and vicious E. coli infection after contact with a rat.

He was malnourished despite having been in Smyllum for a significant time.

He had received a severe beating from a Sister not long before his death, the report says.

Francis McColl, was 13 when he died in Smyllum after an accident in which he was hit by a golf club when it was being swung.

Patricia Meenan died aged 12 when she was hit by a car when she was running away from Smyllum to go back to Glasgow.

Lady Smith's said she would take her findings into account when she analysed all the evidence gathered by the inquiry and decides what recommendations to make within the final report.

The victims have waited years by David Cowan BBC Scotland news

Image caption Memorial stone at St Mary's Cemetery to remember all who died at Smyllum Park Orphanage

Children were abused – three words from Lady Smith which will mean everything to former residents from the two homes.

For years they've alleged they were victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse – and now the chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has said she believes them.

Lady Smith described Smyllum Park and Bellevue House as places of fear, where many children found no love, no compassion, no dignity and no comfort.

For some, she said, being hit was a normal aspect of daily life.

The order which ran the homes, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul have repeated their apology to anyone who suffered abuse in their care.

Smyllum and Bellevue complaints in numbers

Image caption Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark after it closed in the 1980s

20,000 – Number of children housed by the Daughters of Charity in Scotland between 1864 and 1999

11,601 – Number of children housed in Smyllum from its opening in 1864 to its closure in 1981

4,748 – Number of children accommodated in Smyllum from 1930 until its closure in 1981

6,585 – Number of children accommodated in Bellevue from its opening in 1912 to its closure in 1961

121 – Number of complaints of alleged historical abuse at Smyllum made to the Order between 1998 and 2002 That's 37 complaints against individual sisters, 23 complaints against lay staff, four complaints against priests and two complaints against scout leaders)

26 – Number of complaints of alleged abuse at Bellevue made to the Order between 1998 and 2002 (That includes 18 complaints against individual sisters and five complaints against lay staff)

99 – Number of civil actions raised against the Order in relation to Smyllum

18 – Number of civil actions raised against the Order in relation to Bellevue

A statement from the Daughters of Charity said: "Lady Smith's findings describe events and practices which are totally out of keeping with the fundamental values which underpin our life and mission and we are committed to giving this report our utmost attention.

"We most sincerely offer our heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care."

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New York witches place hex on Brett Kavanaugh

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Image caption Catland Books used a fiery image of Brett Kavanaugh to promote their event

The occult turned partisan on Saturday as a coven of New York witches placed a hex on US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Dozens attended the event at Brooklyn's Catland Books, which was also streamed online.

Organisers said the event was "an act of resistance and resilience".

A Catholic priest and exorcist in California, Father Gary Thomas, planned to counter the spell by saying prayers for the justice at Mass.

"This is a conjuring of evil – not about free speech," Father Thomas told the National Catholic Register.

  • Witches cast 'mass spell' against Trump

Dakota Bracciale, co-owner of Catland Books and one of the organisers of the event, said they would not share details or specifics of "the spells", but told the BBC the hex was "aimed at exposing Brett Kavanaugh for what he truly is, to cause him harm and see him undone".

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⚰️💀🔥🕯🗡🕳

Posted by Catland on Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Mr Kavanaugh's appointment to America's top court was confirmed despite him facing sexual assault allegations, something he denies.

Asked when the spells were expected to take effect or when they anticipated seeing the results, the organisers said "as soon as possible", adding: "There's not a firm timeline on these things."

They went on to say that part of its purpose was to provide "camaraderie, fellowship and support during tumultuous times".

Half of the proceeds are to be donated to charities, including the women's health group Planned Parenthood, the organisers' event page says.

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Hex on Kavanaugh!

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Last year, Catland hosted "three consecutive rituals to hex Trump", with tickets to each of the events selling out, the owners said.

They added that press coverage of the rituals sparked a backlash, but that it was "nothing" compared with the scale of abuse following the announcement of their latest event focusing on Mr Kavanaugh.

"We have experienced a pretty severe amount of backlash in the form of hate mail and death threats," Dakota said.

However the previous rituals aimed at Mr Trump, they say, have proved successful.

"We feel the rituals were a success as they sought to expose Trump for what he is, and that has happened on many levels; from the Russia probe to the exposé on his finances to Stormy Daniels [the porn actress who says she had a sexual affair with Mr Trump in 2006]."

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Media captionUS woman casts a spell to curb President Trump

"Witchcraft is a practice, not a religion," Ms Bracciale explained. "It's what one does, not what one believes."

She said that followers of witchcraft see motivation in its history: "It has always been practiced by the most downtrodden, disenfranchised and oppressed peoples who have used it as a tool for survival… to be the arbiter of their own justice since it would be denied by the powers that be.

"[We see] the witch as a political figure who threatens and works to take down the patriarchy. This has been seen throughout history, but more recently in American society.

"We uphold this legacy which merges art, political theatre, religious iconology and socio-political resistance."

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Harrow fire: Person missing in suspected gas blast

Image copyright @rahmanalanezi
Image caption Those rescued were on the first floor of the property in Fulbeck Way, Harrow

A man, woman and baby have been rescued, but one person remains missing, following a suspected gas explosion in north-west London.

A first-floor flat was destroyed in the explosion in Fulbeck Way, Harrow, just before 01:00.

About 70 firefighters tackled the flames overnight and 40 neighbours were evacuated from their homes.

A search is under way for the missing person, London Fire Brigade said, and those rescued are in hospital.

Image copyright @rahmanalanezi
Image caption The roof of the two-storey building has collapsed

They were saved from the first floor by firefighters on a ladder platform.

The fire brigade said: "The first floor is currently alight and has partially collapsed.

"The cause of the explosion is not known at this time but a gas explosion is suspected.

"One person is unaccounted for and a search is under way."

Ten fire engines were sent to the scene and a 20m cordon was put in place.

Image copyright @rahmanalanezi
Image caption Fire crews from Harrow, Northolt, Stanmore and surrounding fire stations attended the blaze

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Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani Kiss Dressed As Sailor & Sally From ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ — Pics

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton are scary cute together! The couple kissed in the sweetest pic, showing off their Halloween costumes. See it here!

It is plain, as anyone can see. That Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were simply meant to be! The couple got in an early Halloween celebration together, sneaking away sans-kids on October 19 — and in full costume. Gwen went all out this year, dressed as an absolutely perfect Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. Blake… kind of phoned it in this year. Sorry, but it’s true! He looked handsome as hell, though, dressed as a sailor, complete with the little hat. Gwen definitely approved. The happy couple kissed deeply at the event, and it was too cute for words!

You know this is true love, because Blake risked getting a ton of white paint all over his face — and Gwen was okay with him potentially ruining her perfect makeup! We’re seriously impressed by that dedication to detail. You would think, though, that out of all the famous couples in Hollywood, these two would be the cutesy ones to do a couple’s costume. Blake totally could have been Jack Skellington! There’s always next year!

This is actually Blake and Gwen’s second Halloween bash of the month and the second dose of spooky PDA. Gwen had a Halloween-themed birthday party! Gwen showed off the cool decorations and venue on Instagram Live before cuddling up to her boyfriend of almost three years. They shared a sweet kiss, but didn’t get too rowdy — her four-year-old son, Apollo Rossdale, wedged himself into the shot. So cute!

Courtesy of Instagram

We can’t wait to see what they come up for Halloween itself! Gwen’s costume is going to be hard to beat. We actually may have years of costumes to compare. The two are seriously considering marriage! They’re in no rush to get married, though, a source told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “They are very happy with where things stand now and will get married when they feel it’s best for both of them.”

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‘My memory is foggy’: Selma Blair reveals MS diagnosis

Selma Blair has revealed she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Selma Blair has revealed she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

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Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson & Jordin Sparks Slay Classic ‘Hocus Pocus’ Tune During Special

Talk about an iconic trio! Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and Jordin Sparks channeled their inner Sanderson sisters to perform ‘I Put A Spell On You’ during the ‘Hocus Pocus’ special! Watch now!

If there’s ever going to be a Hocus Pocus remake, then Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and Jordin Sparks should play the Sanderson sisters, without a doubt. This singing trio proved that during Freeform’s Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash. The talented ladies performed “I Put A Spell On You” that Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy sang in the 1993 film. It. Was. Awesome.

Dove, Sofia, and Jordin absolutely killed it. Their voices sounded amazing — as usual — and their tribute performance was legendary from start to finish. They just cast a spell on us all, and we are so here for it. Seriously, their costumes were so on point! Dove dazzled in a green velvet gown, giving off total Winifred vibes. Sofia channeled her inner Sarah in a stunning purple ensemble, and Jordin stunned in an orange dress reminiscent of Mary Sanderson’s look. Obsessed is an understatement!

.@DoveCameron, @SofiaCarson, and @JordinSparks are sure to put a spell on you.

Watch the #HocusPocus25thAnniversary Halloween Bash TONIGHT at 8:15pm/7:15c on Freeform. pic.twitter.com/KBZkbwTeuf

— Freeform (@FreeformTV) October 20, 2018

The legendary Sanderson sisters, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, director Kenny Ortega, and more of the original cast members took part in the reunion special, which is part of Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween. Jordan Fisher and Vanessa Hudgens hosted the epic event that took place at the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. What an epic night! Hocus Pocus will continuing airing on Freeform all month long and will be shown all day on Halloween!

Disney Channel revealed plans to remake Hocus Pocus as a TV movie in 2017 with a new cast and director. Take notice of this performance, DC! Speaking of Disney Channel, Dove and Sofia’s Descendants 3 will premiere in summer 2019.

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