THE Rev. Gordon Haggarty was well known for his story-telling. Not

only did he captivate the swelling congregation at the North Church of

St Andrew with his oratory but he was a sought-after public speaker.

The compassion of his funeral services, the joy in his wedding

ceremonies, and the enthusiasm of his Sunday sermons made him Aberdeen's

best-known minister, with a higher public profile than many men of the

cloth would prefer.

He was a showman, actively involved in so many activities from

compering children's shows and carol concerts to school organisations

and the Boys' Brigade that he had difficulty in coping with the demands

of his own church, and an unemployed minister was called on to lighten

his workload.

Few had a bad word to say publicly about the smiling minister whose

name was a household one in Aberdeen, but now the sincerity of his every

action must be in question.

The revelations of his sordid acts with young girls, using his trust

as a man of God to manipulate them into situations where he could

satisfy his perverted desires, have rocked the North-east.

His congregation, those he married, and the relatives of those he

buried have been devastated to discover the secret life he led.

Over a decade he lured carefully selected young girls to his home or

to the church where, by using his story-telling gift, he performed lewd

and libidinous acts.

He convinced his innocent victims they were to be involved in helping

write a story for a church magazine about a young girl who was

kidnapped. To help with this they had to experience the emotions a

kidnap victim might feel when tied, gagged and blindfolded.

He convinced each girl she was his special friend, that this was to be

their secret, and then betrayed the trust the innocents and their

parents had placed in him.

Such was his magnetism that there are still those, in spite of his own

admission, reluctant to believe that their minister was capable of the

crimes he committed.

They only came to light when the grandfather of one of his victims

died. She had been 11 when Haggarty bound, gagged, blindfolded, and

photographed her in the West End manse he shares with his wife and

teenage daughter, and when his name was mentioned as a possible minister

to perform the funeral the girl, by then aged 18, stunned her family by

saying ''Not that pervert''.

She was then persuaded to disclose what had happened and the police

were informed.

Within a few days the minister who had, by his own actions, set

himself on a pedestal was led into court in handcuffs.

The career of the chaplain to Grampian Fire Brigade, Aberdeen prison,

Aberdeen lifeboat crew, Cove Rangers football team and His Majesty's

Theatre was over.

The Jekyll and Hyde existence of the ex-policeman and prominent

freemason who was persuaded that the ministry was his true calling had

been exposed.

His obsession with bondage, violence and the occult was clear from the

videos discovered in his manse and in his church vestry.

Many who had placed their trust in him were shattered, but while they

will recover, his victims, and their children, may be mentally scarred

for life.

Research has shown that the suffering of the victims does not relate

directly to the degree of abuse. The betrayal of a child's trust by an

adult who they expect to care for and protect them can have, according

to one Scottish counseller, ''a devastating effect''.

Each victim suffers in different ways. Problems may not manifest

themselves until they have their own children. They may then find

themselves unable even to cuddle them, and not realise why.

The abuse may cost them their self-esteem which can lead to

depression, alcohol and drug abuse and relationship difficulties.

Their problems can lead them to become hostile towards the world in

general and family and friends in particular.

Gordon Haggarty's victims may develop phobias and grow up with a

complete absence of emotional reaction. The ordeal they endured may even

make a simple visit to the dentist a terrifying experience because it

could revive memories of being trapped in a frightening situation.

Even if they were unaware and unworried at the time of the abuse the

effects are the same as the truth dawns on them when they are old


The Rev. Michael Mair is an Aberdeen minister who has known Gordon

Haggarty since his youth and, by coincidence, they became joint

chaplains to Craiginches prison in Aberdeen.

''From the start the church has quite rightly been careful to look

after their colleague and quite rightly concern has been expressed for

him and his family, but that is secondary. As a minister in this city,

given the horrific nature of the offences, my first concern would be for

the girls involved and their families.

''These people have had real wrong done to them and we should all be

very, very concerned about that and the effect on them.''

Mr Mair said there was a misconception that people were either all

good or all wicked. This case revealed that sexual abuse and other

paedophile-type offences against children were carried out by otherwise

''good'' people.

''It might be a next door neighbour, it might be a respected teacher,

or it might be a minister,'' he said.

''I would want to recognise in a colleague things I know he did and

which I could never challenge as evidence of his goodness.

''There were times when, without any publicity, for no reason other

than he believed he should, he spent hours with people who had no

statutory call on his services and was of great comfort and benefit to

them. However I would not want in any way to minimise the seriousness of

what he did.

''Because people put them on a pedestal there is a great temptation

for ministers to begin to believe they don't have any serious faults.

One of the things I know personally as a minister is how important it is

to be very conscious of your own weaknesses and wayward desires and to

acknowledge these at least to yourself so that they are not allowed to

come out and cause damage to others.''

''Some people apparently believe you to be perfect, and if you start

believing that yourself you will end up in a lot of trouble. If you

ignore your own serious compulsions the chances are you could be doing

things but pretending you are not.

''There is a danger you become a Jekyll and Hyde.''

Haggarty could not control his wayward desires and it cost him the

success and standing he was so desperate to achieve. He had found that

through the ministry where it had eluded him before.

The son of a solicitor he tried to follow in his father's footsteps by

enrolling for

the law faculty at Glasgow University. Although on occasions he

deluded himself and others by wearing the hood of a bachelor of law

Haggarty flunked the law course and moved into the police. Three years

later he departed the Glasgow force suddenly to study for the ministry.

According to Haggarty, his minister, one Thursday night, persuaded him

the Church was his true calling. He resigned on the Friday and, ''by

pulling a few strings'', was in the Faculty of Arts at Edinburgh

University on the Monday.

He spent five years studying, achieving no degree but a licentiate in

theology, and during that period served as an assistant in Edinburgh's

Canongate and Craigmillar Park churches.

In 1970 he was appointed assistant at Dunblane Cathedral and the next

year was ordained and inducted into his first charge, Glasgow's Chryston


In 1976 he moved to Aberdeen, where he found success. His charge was

the North Church of St Andrew, ironically next door to Grampian Police

headquarters, where his career finally ended.