An abuse survivor has become the first person in Scotland to secure compensation from the notorious Christian Brothers.
Dave Sharp was awarded a five figure sum after a 40 year fight for justice.
The 59-year-old, who was repeatedly beaten and raped when he was a pupil at St Ninian’s residential school in Falkland, hopes his case will pave the way for hundreds of other victims to come forward.
“This is not about money and it’s not a story about Dave Sharp,” he said.
“It’s about every child who has been abused in Scotland and about making these institutions accept liability.”
Dave was awarded compensation despite his abuser, former headteacher Brother Gerry Ryan, never being charged with any offence.
He had to seek compensation through an English court because in Scotland abuse victims have just three years from the date of their injury to bring a civil action.
A change in the law will see that time bar removed in November.
Dave has told how for six years Ryan, who has since died, repeatedly tied him up and hung him by the neck in a freezing basement shower room before abusing him.
“A lot of people at St Ninians were from the Fife and Dundee areas and with the court case last year as many as 70 men came forward — and that just covered a small period from 1976 to 79.”
The school was open from 1952 to 1983 and Dave believes many hundreds of people would have suffered abuse there at the hands of the Christian Brothers.
He has set up his own group called SAFE — Seek and Find Everyone — in a bid to track down survivors.
Working with support group Wellbeing Scotland, he has been speaking to people at events across Scotland to ensure they are given counselling and legal advice.
“It’s about justice and having your voice heard,” he said.
“The Christian Brothers still haven’t apologised to me but if they are giving me money then surely they must accept liability.”
Dave said that if survivors came forward and joined forces, it would strengthen any legal claim.
“If I can get compensation, anybody can because my abuser died without ever being charged with any offence. There will be people out there with stronger cases than mine.”
Alastair Gillespie, who acted for the Congregation of Christian Brothers (CCB) in Dave’s case, said: “Mr Sharp alleged that he was sexually abused by a teacher while a pupil of St Ninian’s during the early 1970s and that as a result, he has suffered injury and loss.
“The CCB and its legal representatives reviewed Mr Sharp’s allegations and decided it was appropriate to seek to resolve the claim before it became formally litigated in the courts.
“Any claim that might be made is considered very carefully on the facts and evidence which are unique and specific to that case.”
Abuse survivors can receive advice and support at www.wellbeingscotland.org.