Australia

Cardinal George Pell to be sued over alleged 1970s sexual abuse in Ballarat

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A man will sue George Pell in the Supreme Court of Victoria, saying the disgraced cardinal abused him in Ballarat in the 1970s.

A man who says he was molested by George Pell when he was a boy in the 1970s will file a lawsuit against the disgraced cardinal in Victoria's Supreme Court.

The suit, expected to be lodged this week, names Pell, the trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth (formerly St Joseph's), the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the State of Victoria. 

The complainant alleges he was a victim of physical and sexual abuse while in care at Ballarat's St Joseph's Boys Home between February 1974 and 1978.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne. The senior Catholic cleric has been found guilty of assaulting two boys in the 1990s.
Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne. The senior Catholic cleric has been found guilty of assaulting two boys in the 1990s.
AAP

The 50-year-old was a complainant against Pell in a criminal trial over allegations the cardinal indecently assaulted boys in Ballarat in the 1970s.

That criminal trial was dropped by prosecutors last week, though the complainant's matter was dropped late last year after prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to proceed.

The complainant has now elected to take the matter forward, via a personal civil action against Pell and other church and state entities,  including the trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth (formerly St Joseph's), the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the State of Victoria

"It took a lot of courage and soul searching to be prepared to tell my story, accusing one of the most senior Catholics in the world of serious criminal offences and eventually I was resigned to having my day in court," the man said.

A man will sue George Pell in the Supreme Court of Victoria, saying the disgraced cardinal abused him in Ballarat in the 1970s.
A man will sue George Pell in the Supreme Court of Victoria, saying the disgraced cardinal abused him in Ballarat in the 1970s.
AAP

"But when I was told they had withdrawn the case I felt empty and that an injustice had occurred."

In a statement of claim, the man alleges Pell sexually abused him three or four times in a swimming pool at the home.

At the time, he knew the man's name was George and that he was sometimes called "Father", but only realised after seeing him on television years later it was the now-disgraced cardinal.

Pell was found guilty in December of separate allegations, relating to the sexual abuse of two boys at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.

He has filed an appeal application with the Court of Appeal over his conviction. 

He has also consistently denied all other claims of abuse or inappropriate conduct.

Arnold Thomas & Becker lawyer Lee Flanagan said they hoped to include the evidence of three other men who were complainants in the so-called  “swimmer's trial” against Pell.

Two alleged Pell abused them at Ballarat's Eureka Swimming Pool around the same time, while the third alleged the abuse happened at Lake Boga. Pell denied all these claims of abuse, and this trial was ultimately withdrawn due to lack of admissible evidence. 

The complainant alleges the man was a victim of physical and sexual abuse while in care at Ballarat's St Joseph's Boys Home between February 1974 and 1978.
The complainant alleges the man was a victim of physical and sexual abuse while in care at Ballarat's St Joseph's Boys Home between February 1974 and 1978.
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

In addition to the complainant’s allegations relating to Pell, the complainant also separately alleges physical abuse while at the home, including that a nun, named Sister Victoire, would hit him and one time rubbed his excrement in his face after he soiled his pants.

The complainant also alleges physical abuse while at the home, including that a nun, named Sister Victoire, would hit him and one time rubbed his excrement in his face after he soiled his pants.

He also alleges he was forced to stay at the home on weekends and garden, and while living with cottage parents, he was forced to make mud bricks under threat of not being fed.

He is suing for medical expenses and loss of earning capacity, claiming the abuse led him to suffer chronic post-traumatic stress and anxiety syndrome, chronic adjustment disorder, emotional attachment disorder and alcohol abuse or use disorder.

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