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BOGUS SEX VICTIMS IN CASH HUNT; New group backs blameless nuns.

Byline: TOM PRENDEVILLE

AN IRISH woman rescued and reared by nuns after a tragic childhood has branded some people claiming compensation for clerical sex abuse as bogus bounty hunters.

Florence Horsman Hogan spent years in homes because of a mentally ill mum and alcoholic dad.

Now she is spearheading a campaign to thank those who saved her from a life of misery.

Florence claims she has spoken to some people who spent time in institutions who say they know of others claiming to be victims just to get the cash.

She has set up Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE) to counter allegations that kids reared in homes across the Republic had been victims of abuse and misery.

Florence's organisation is keen to help the innocent who have been automatically tarred with the same brush as true abusers.

"They can't defend themselves. Anyone could just come up with a story and they can't do anything about it. Clearly there was some abuse but the majority were genuinely good people." Florence says 90 former residents from 15 different homes have banded together to tell their stories.

"In the early 1990s I listened with horror to appalling stories of child abuse in religious-run homes," she says.

"We contacted each other (former orphans) and felt the carers we knew, many now elderly, needed support.

"We realised that some ex-residents were accusing innocent carers in order to claim compensation."

More than 30 lay people have contacted LOVE claiming false allegations against them.

So far the Residential Institution Redress Board has dealt with 2655 claims and that figure is expected to rise to over 4,000 with average EUR80,000 payouts.

"In the early 1990's I listened to the appalling stories of child abuse in religious run residential homes. I too had been in a home.

"I felt very sorry for the sisters I knew.

"All their years of washing and cooking and cleaning in order to make our lives that little bit better, now tarnished forever," said Florence.

Let Our Voices Emerge (086) 876 2148 or contact voicesemerge@hotmail.com
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 29, 2004
Words:345
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