George Pell at the Ballarat pool: ‘Everything he did was done with a grandeur’

The Age

Chris Johnston

Cardinal George Pell was a larger-than-life figure at the Eureka pool in Ballarat through the summers of the late 1970s. This was when – it is now sensationally alleged – he sexually abused two boys in the pool.

“A big, strong, good-looking man,” says Paul Tatchell​, a former mayor of Moorabool shire and himself a victim of rape by a notorious Catholic priest in Ballarat – Edward Dowlan​ – in the bad old days. Pell was on Richmond’s reserves list to play footy 20 years before. He gave up sport for the church. But he had kept in shape.

“He was never short of admirers,” says Tatchell. Pell, now the Vatican’s head of finance, would have been 38, 39 years old. “He was in very good nick. Everything he did was done with a grandeur – and he reckoned he went all right.”

Many of the Catholic schools nearby used Eureka as their pool, but the best time to be there was summer school holidays and Pell was always there then, too.

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