Police investigation into historic abuse claims

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Media captionMaryanne Pugsley: “The impact of this has infiltrated every single aspect of my life”

Police have launched a fresh probe into claims a woman was sexually abused by her teacher at a South Ayrshire school.

Maryanne Pugsley first spoke about the allegations – which date back to the 1970s – at Holyrood when she was calling for an inquiry into abuses at state schools.

A Police Scotland investigation into the claims was launched in 2016 but no-one was charged.

However, BBC Scotland understands the force is now pursuing new leads.

Mrs Pugsley, 55, claims the man abused her over a number of years from the age of 12 and alleges they had a “meeting place” in the middle of the Ayrshire countryside, where their initials are carved into a tree.

The mother-of-two made a complaint to South Ayrshire Council in the 1990s but said she was told at the time there was not enough evidence for the case to proceed to prosecutors.

Two years ago Mrs Pugsley, who works as a classroom assistant, asked the local authority for a copy of her complaint file but was told that they could not find any records.

She has also now launched a civil legal action against South Ayrshire Council seeking compensation for her alleged abuse.

The local authority has said its current safeguarding procedures for children are far more robust than in the past.


Mrs Puglsey said: “I’m hoping that this investigation will finally lead to resolving my quest for justice.

“Repeatedly revisiting the sexual abuse that I suffered as a child leaves me exhausted, both mentally and physically.

“Many times I have been praised for the courage in putting forward the petition and complimented on how strong I am but what people don’t see are the days when I have a complete meltdown and cannot function.”

Mrs Puglsey said she would “not rest” until her case had been resolved.

Image caption

Maryanne Pugsley, whose former surname is Fitzsimmons, lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament in April calling for an inquiry into child abuse at state schools

Mrs Puglsey has lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament calling for a public inquiry into the abuse of children within Scottish state schools, an issue not currently covered by the ongoing Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

The petition has the backing of Tory MSP Brian Whittle who has been supporting Mrs Puglsey in her case.

‘Inquiries continuing’

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “In 2016 a report of non-recent sexual abuse (1970s) of a female pupil by a male teacher at a school in South Ayrshire was received by Police Scotland.

“An investigation was carried out at that time and no-one was charged.

“However, inquiries are still continuing.”

A spokesman for South Ayrshire Council said: “The 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 children and young people.”

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