Damian Dignan, who publicly accused Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse, has died

By Chanel Kinniburgh
Herald Sun
January 7, 2018

George Pell accuser Damian Dignan.

Cardinal George Pell at Melbourne Magistrates' Court in July, 2017.
Photo by Michael Dodge

[with video]

ONE of the men who publicly accused Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse has died.

Damian Dignan of Ballarat reportedly lost his battle to a long-term illness on Saturday.

His “best friend” and former partner Sharon Rixon said Mr Dignan had “the biggest heart” and loved their children unconditionally.

“It is with great sadness that my best friend and the father of my children has passed away today,” Ms Rixon posted to Facebook late on Saturday night.

“I will continue to love and guide and support our children through this difficult time.

“Rest easy beautiful soul, I love you forever and always, Damien Dignan.”

Ms Rixon went on to say Mr Dignan was now pain free.

Lawyer Ingrid Irwin, who represented Mr Dignan, told the Herald Sun the news of his passing has left her “gutted”.

“It’s totally ridiculous that he’s now passed away without any justice, the legal system is completely inept and archaic,” she said.

“He is one of the bravest Ballarat boys I know, he walked around broken and somehow found the strength to speak out about the problem.

“There’s so many survivors out there that haven’t come forward but are heartened by what he did and they can see themselves in him.”

Comedian Frank Hampster, who was abused by a Catholic priest in Ballarat in the 1980s, said as a survivor he would not rest until justice was served.

“In him dying prematurely, he has been denied justice,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of those who have survived to maintain the fight for justice for those who now can’t.

“The power of love will always overcome evil.”

The Herald Sun first revealed Cardinal Pell was under investigation by Taskforce Sano in February 2016.

He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name since being charged with historical sex offences in June last year.

Victoria Police said the cardinal was facing multiple charges relating to multiple victims.

Prosecutors will now have to consider whether there is enough evidence to continue with charges against Cardinal Pell.

The matter will return to court on January 10 for a special mention.



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