Call for an inquiry into abuse in schools

Maryanne Pugsley.
Maryanne Pugsley.

A mother who says she was sexually abused for three years by her teacher at a South Ayrshire school has called for a public inquiry.

Maryanne Pugsley claims the man abused her at a “meeting place” in the middle of the countryside regularly from the age of 12.

The mum-of-two said the traumatic incidents in the 1970s have been ingrained into every experience of her life and she has called for an inquiry into the abuse of children in Scottish state schools.

Maryanne, 55, a classroom assistant,  said: “Someone who abuses is not just going to do it to one person. If we had an inquiry victims would come forward. He was still teaching up until six or seven years ago. I don’t think he shows any remorse.

“He groomed me and singled me out as the teacher’s pet. People knew something was going on. I had to cycle to school to facilitate going to these remote places. I was taken into the middle of the woods. It messes your life up.”

The mother-of-two, who lives in a South Ayrshire village, made a complaint to the council in the 1990s. The alleged predator was suspended, then moved to another local authority. She was told there was not enough evidence for the procurator fiscal.

In 2016 she went to the police but found out that the council had no record of her complaint from the 1990s and was told the case would not reach a criminal court because of lack of corroboration.

South Ayrshire Council has apologised for the lack of records.

After advice from MSP Brian Whittle, Maryanne took her case to the Scottish Parliament and lodged a petition last month calling for a public inquiry into the abuse of children in Scottish state schools and a review of the law of corroboration.

Maryanne said: “The nature of being the victim of child abuse involves isolation and the fear of telling others, invariably ruling out a witness. We need to stop the trauma carrying down to the next generation. I want this nation to get it right for every child.”

MSP Brian Whittle said: “We decided after quite a lot of deliberation that the best way to get it properly aired would be to bring it to the Public Petitions Committee.”

A council spokesman said: “South Ayrshire Council is sympathetic to anyone suffering as a result of the unresolved injustice of historical child abuse. We are also confident that there are far more robust procedures in place today which safeguard our young people.”