History will judge George Pell, the cardinal who sought to crush me

Sydney Morning Herald

February 28, 2019

By John Ellis

I have hesitated in weighing in to add to the thousands of words written this week about the publication, at long last, of the details of the conviction of George Pell last December on child sex abuse charges.

It may surprise many to know that I have not followed the criminal process at all, know few details of it (even now), and have no opinion as to what may or may not happen in the balance of that criminal process.

However, as a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest over a period of more than 12 years, and having faced myself the opinion apparently held by those close to George Pell (and perhaps by Pell himself) – as to how inherently unlikely it was that a holy monk of God would have so openly engaged in such debased and abhorrent acts against a young boy – I feel saddened that the experiences of the complainant have been so disrespected by many commentators who feel the need to express doubt over what a jury of 12 has been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.

George Pell apologised to me for the legal abuse perpetrated by the church under his watch as Archbishop of Sydney. Before he departed for Rome in 2014, he famously recited a public apology not to me but to the assembled audience at the conclusion of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing. I had a cup of tea with him. While that was a private meeting and will remain so, I can say that I have never felt any warmth from the man. I was not left with a sense of any acceptance of personal responsibility for how he sought to crush me or any appreciation of the impacts of his own actions.

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