A former teacher at a residential childcare institution has dismissed an allegation that he sexually abused a boy at the home.
The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, worked at the Catholic-run St Ninian’s in Falkland, Fife, during the late 1950s and 1960s.
Colin MacAulay, senior counsel to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, questioned the man about claims he would “get into bed beside” and touch the youngster.
The witness, now in his 80s, said: “It’s absolutely appalling, I feel besmirched by them (allegations). They never happened.”
It was also heard that a group of four older boys were identified as “bullying” younger children by sexually assaulting them.
The inquiry was told there was “no good” in excluding the culprits from the institution, as they needed care.
He also said they could have been punished with a “strap” to the backside.
The witness added: “If it was a serious, persistent offence – like sexual abuse of an older boy on a junior boy – and if I had spoken to him on a number of times, then I would strap.
“I can’t remember doing it, what I’m saying is I could well have done.”
Mr MacAulay then asked if older children had sexually assaulted younger ones, to which the witness replied: “Yes.”
He added he had never witnessed an adult abusing one of the youngsters.
The witness broke down for a brief period while describing the death of a child in his care, which the inquiry heard had been accidental.
The boy was said to have had a heart condition which meant he was banned from taking part in sporting activities.
However, he did have a boxing match against another boy and collapsed soon afterwards.
The inquiry also heard that the institution, run by the Christian Brothers, needed more staff, as employees were “overworked”.
The witness, who was a brother in the religious order, added: “It was 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The inquiry before judge Lady Smith in Edinburgh continues on Friday.