Australia

Pell's surviving victim responds to appeal decision

The surviving victim whose testimony saw George Pell convicted of sexual abuse of a child has released a media statement, after the Court of Appeal upheld the Cardinal’s conviction. The statement was read by Dr Vivian Waller, principal solicitor at Waller Legal, with a note reminding that publishing anything that may identify her client is prohibited under Victorian law.

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This is the statement in full.

It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful. The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from. The justice machine rolls on with all of its processes and punditry, almost forgetting about the people at the heart of the matter.

Despite this, I appreciate that the criminal process afforded Pell every opportunity to challenge the charges and to be heard. I am glad he had the best legal representation money can buy. There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal system and the appeal process is one of them. 

I just hope that it is now all over.

Some commenters have suggested that I reported to the police somehow for my own personal gain. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have risked my privacy, my health, my wellbeing, my family. I have not instructed any solicitor in relation to a claim for compensation. This is not about money and never has been.

Although my faith has taken a battering it is still part of my life, and part of the lives of loved ones.

Some commenters have suggested that I am somehow out to cause damage to the Catholic Church. I am not on a mission to do anybody any harm. Although my faith has taken a battering it is still part of my life, and part of the lives of loved ones.

I am not an advocate. You wouldn’t know my name. I am not a champion for the cause of sexual abuse survivors, although I am glad those advocating are out there. But that is not my path.

After attending the funeral of my childhood friend, the other choirboy, I felt a responsibility to come forward. I knew he had been in a dark place. I was in a dark place. I gave a statement to the police because I was thinking of him and his family. I felt I should say what I saw and what happened to me. I had experienced something terrible as a child, something that marked my life. I wanted at least some good to come of it. 

I would like to acknowledge my friend who passed away, the other choirboy, and pay my deep respect to him and his family. I would like to acknowledge the courage of those people who reported to the police. For one reason or another, your cases were not advanced. My heart goes out to all of you. 

I would like to acknowledge the Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions. I am grateful for the steady hand of His Honour Chief Judge [Peter] Kidd in guiding the trial and his compassionate, balanced and fair sentencing. 

In February, due to other cases not going ahead, I ended up in the spotlight alone. The suppression order was to be lifted and I suddenly found myself at the centre of worldwide media interest.

I asked Viv Waller to help me manage the considerable media interest in the case and to protect my identity and my family. I could not afford legal representation but that did not matter to her. I will forever be grateful that Viv agreed to help me and to do so for free. She has liaised with the media on my behalf. She has allowed the storms of public opinion to buffet her so that my young family could find safe harbour. 

My journey has not been an easy one. It has been all the more stressful because the case involved a high-profile figure. I thank the media for respecting my privacy and for continuing to protect my identity. 

I need to be able to define myself away from all this. Recently I have started a new chapter of my life as a father. The experiences I have been through have helped me understand what is truly important.

I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law. 

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