Ex-Priests' Lawyer Brands Sex Abuse Victim a Liar

By Waylon Johnston
Times of Malta
January 14, 2012

TV presenter Lou Bondí and sex abuse victim Lawrence Grech rubbing shoulders during the campaign for the clerics to face justice.

Sex abuse victim Lawrence Grech has been labelled a liar by defence lawyer Giannella de Marco as she made her case in the appeal of two former priests against their child abuse conviction.

In what must have been an uncomfortable moment for Mr Grech in the public gallery, the lawyer accused him of seeking fame and fortune and "biting the hand that fed him". Mr Grech shifted uneasily on the already hard and uncomfortable court room bench as the lawyer described his "system of conduct" which, she claimed, supported the theory that his abuse claims were all a lie.

Dr de Marco made the arguments at the start of the appeal proceedings in which her clients, defrocked Francesco Scerri, known as Godwin, and Carmelo Pulis are contesting their conviction.

Mr Pulis was sentenced for six years jail and Mr Scerri was for five years. A third member of the same Order, Brother Joseph Bonnett, who had been facing the same charges, passed away last January, aged 63, during the proceedings. The victims, who were then aged between 13 and 16, were resident in children's homes in the late 1980s when the abuse took place.

Mr Grech was the first person to come forward with the claims on a TV show hosted by presenter Lou Bondí. The presenter later helped Mr Grech and a group of eight men, who later joined him in the campaign for justice.

After the ex-priests' conviction, however, Mr Grech and Mr Bondí fell out publicly, trading claims and counter-claims. Dr de Marco yesterday leveraged on this confrontation and called to the witness stand Mr Bondí who, at the height of the dispute, accused Mr Grech of lying. She stressed that her point was not to ask him for an opinion but rather for him to confirm what he had written. This was contested by the Attorney General's representative, Philip Galea Farrugia, and the victims' lawyer Patrick Valentino, who said that it was precisely an opinion that Mr Bondí would be giving.

Dr Valentino added that what the court needed was fact and not the opinion of some journalist, adding that if the TV presenter was to be allowed to testify, then he would ask for Archbishop Paul Cremona to also take the witness stand.

The Archbishop would be asked to confirm that he handed the victims an unconditional apology for the abuse that they had suffered.

Mr Justice David Scicluna said that the only question that could be asked to Mr Bondí was whether he confirmed what he had written in the blog.

Dr de Marco indicated that she would be happy if that happened, adding that it was not an opinion.

The judge said that he would decided on the matter at a later date.


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