Press-statement by Eric Cullen at time of original court-case

This statement appeared in full, apart from slight editorial cuts to paragraph 5, in The Scotsman on 30th June 1995 under the heading "I lived with the secret that I had been sexually abused since 13"; and in part (first 7 paragraphs) in The Herald on 17th August 1996 with the title "Testament of sexual abuse and humiliation".

[This text was prepared by Eric in the expectation that the court would simply fine him, and that his long ordeal was now over. This was not an unrealistic expectation, since the sheriff's decision to send him to Barlinnie prison came as a total shock to everyone - including the prosecution team, who were horrified.]

"Today is the end of 16 years of hell. For 14 years of that time, I lived with the darkest secret, that I had been sexually abused since the age of 13. I was raped by a family friend and by other men that he knew. I grew up being told by these men, and believing, that if I ever told on them, I would be put in a children's home and get into trouble.

"Because my abusers knew I was adopted, this was a great fear for me - that I would be taken away from my mum and dad. I believed them. I was only a child.

"At the age of 16, I was treated in a special needs' unit at Motherwell College for behavioural and slow-learning difficulties. This was due to the abuse that I was suffering. I had my childhood stolen from me, I was hurting both mentally and physically and nothing in life seemed to make any sense.

"I spent over four years at this unit trying to gain the Highers that I needed to go to Glasgow College.

"Whilst at Glasgow College, I was still being constantly raped because I still looked like the child they had first abused at the age of 13. Because I did not grow tall, I was denied my young adulthood as well as my childhood. While still being constantly molested and being forced to lie about my age so that other men would desire to rape me, two charges took place.

"Through fear, terror and confusion, I allowed what the Crown call an indecent photograph of myself to be taken in the presence of another boy. I had been photographed naked constantly since I was 13 and this was part of the humiliation I had constantly suffered. I did not take two photographs of the said boy but I permitted the taking of those photographs.

"I had no other choice because of the terror and horror I was living under. I am relieved that unlike me, the boy has not suffered in any way because of this experience.

"Still being abused, I went into my chosen profession of being an actor. At last life had some meaning and purpose. During 1990, two of my abusers started to blackmail me, threatening that they would tell everyone about my childhood.

"This blackmail and physical assault lasted until early in July 1993. I had never spoken up or, in fact, ever tried to physically stop these men. At 4ft 4in, it is difficult to protect yourself.

"The pornography left in my house did not belong to me, but belonged to Francis Currens, who is now serving 14 years for sodomising children over an 18-year period - one of whom was me.

"On 30 August, 1993, when the police came to my house and removed the pornography that had been left there, I, for the first time, reached out to the police and told them what had been happening to me. I co-operated fully, but broke down hysterically. They told me not to tell anyone they had been.

"Yet on the same day, Strathclyde police leaked my name to the media. Leaking my name on 30 August, 1993, meant that an extremely sensitive inquiry became public and allowed a number of my abusers to destroy evidence against them. It seemed more important that 'Wee Burney' should hit the headlines. I lived for the next two months amidst leaks and sensationalism caused by Strathclyde police.

"In October, 1993, at Hamilton police station I had to watch several hours of one of my abusers sodomising children, as he had done to me. I gave my fullest co-operation in the investigation into the evil Scoutmaster, Francis Currens. After this traumatic viewing in the police station, I was a mental wreck.

"Having to watch this filth brought back memories of what Francis Currens did to me as a child.

"When the police removed all the videos in my home, they removed more than 100 personal videos, all of which were totally innocent videos.

"From this personal collection they selected about a 15-second clip, all taken as part of a day's record of a happy holiday. It is this same video that the woman in charge of the group of youngsters was shown by the police and stated that she found nothing suggestive in the recording. Yet still I have been charged.

"Immediately after the police interview, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Hairmyres Hospital. While undergoing treatment, two officers visited me. They asked further questions regarding the men who had abused me. By the time they had finished, I had run out of the room and was hiding in a cupboard, screaming.

"On Saturday, 14 January, 1995, I was told that Strathclyde police were planning an 'unheard of police briefing' about my case. I went into deep depression and was taken to see Dr Prem Misra. I was told that under no circumstances would I be left alone, as I was a serious suicide risk.

"On Monday, 16 January, 1995, I was admitted to the Langside Priory Hospital in Glasgow for intensive psychiatric treatment, which I am still receiving today. On that same day, Strathclyde police held their briefing. My case had not yet come to court, but the police gave the press a story which was peppered with factual mistakes, inaccuracies, misleading times and assumptions. I am considering taking legal action against Strathclyde police."

"I have never known what it is to ask for sympathy. When you go through your childhood being raped and not growing taller than a ten-year-old, it is a word that is not in your vocabulary. I know what it is like to scream for mercy - but never to receive any. I gave the police my fullest co-operation and named the men who had abused me, but only one of them has received any punishment. It seems to have been more important in the last two years that the police justify the leaks and sensationalism surrounding me.

"Now I believe my abusers were right, as they told me for years that if ever I told anyone I would get into trouble. I got into trouble, but my message to anyone who is being abused is to tell someone and to stop the nightmare continuing.

"I have pleaded guilty today because I can no longer live under the strain and mental torture that the last two years have brought for myself, my family and those close to me.

"Today is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I no longer have to be alone with the knowledge that I have been raped since childhood. Now I hope that my story will help others break the most evil spell that our abusers cast over us: 'Now don't tell anyone'."

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