Witness J, former choirboy who accused George Pell, says case ‘does not define me’


April 8, 2020

[This article includes the full text of Witness J’s statement and a video interview with Vivian Waller, his lawyer.]

The former choirboy who accused George Pell of abusing him in the 1990s says he hopes the High Court’s unanimous acquittal of the Cardinal does not discourage survivors from reporting abuse.

In a statement issued this morning, Witness J said he respected and accepted the court’s decision and thanked police for their work:

I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome.

I understand their view that there was not enough evidence to satisfy the court beyond all reasonable doubt that the offending occurred.

I understand that the High Court is saying that the prosecution did not make out the case to the required standards of proof.

There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal justice system and the appeal process is one of them. I respect that.

It is difficult in child sexual abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt.

It is a very high standard to meet — a heavy burden.

I understand why criminal cases must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

No-one wants to live in a society where people can be imprisoned without due and proper process.

This is a basic civil liberty. But the price we pay for weighting the system in favour of the accused is that many sexual offences against children go unpunished.

That’s why it remains important that everyone who can report to the police does so.

I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police.

I would like to reassure child sexual abuse survivors that most people recognise the truth when they hear it.

They know the truth when they look it in the face. I am content with that.

I would like to thank the police and the Office of Public Prosecutions for their work. I have felt well supported through this journey.

My journey has been long and I am relieved it is over. I have my ups and downs. The darkness is never far away.

Despite the stress of the legal process and public controversy I have tried hard to keep myself together. I am OK. I hope that everyone who has followed this case is OK.

I thank the media for respecting my privacy and for continuing to protect my identity. This has allowed me to stay on track with my recovery and wellbeing.

This case does not define me. I am a man who came forward for my friend who, sadly, is no longer with us.

I am a man doing my best to be a loving dad, partner, son, brother and friend.

I am doing my best to find and hold joy in my life and to provide a safe and loving home for my family.

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