Father of a deceased choirboy files lawsuit against Cardinal Pell
(For Immediate Release July 14, 2022)
The father of a choirboy who prosecutors alleged was sexually abused by Cardinal George Pell has launched a lawsuit against the cleric and the Catholic Church. We stand in solidarity with the deceased victim’s father and hope that the scheduled hearing for next month can begin to bring some level of justice to the family. We can’t imagine the pain that still lingers for the victim’s father, especially since the Vatican never pursued an investigation of its own. There is no doubt the church breached its duty of care.
According to reports, the father is seeking damages for mental injury that he suffered after learning of the allegations, his lawyers said. In 2018 Cardinal Pell was convicted of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s, but his conviction was reversed in 2020 after an appeal. So far, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has made no comment and the court set down a hearing for the suit next month. We look forward to seeing this case proceed.
When Pell’s conviction was overturned, we wrote that “this ruling only exacerbates the mistrust survivors feel. It also helps propagate myths about sexual violence, stigmatizes victims for choosing to disclose later in life, and negatively affects how people react when allegations are made against prominent community members.” We hope that through this civil suit, this bereaved father is able to help correct some of these myths and further demonstrate the facts of the abuse that his son suffered.
Based on their reporting habits, church officials have for years held their own investigations out as equal if not better than those of law enforcement. For them to be satisfied with the outcome of Pell’s appeal in this case instead of carrying out their own probe was a grave failure for Pope Francis’s “all-out battle” against clergy abuse. Cardinal Pell was put back on the job and once again, church officials turned a blind eye.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org; our Australia website is SNAPAustralia.org)