George Pell Set To Publish Memoir Following Acquittal On Sex Abuse Charges

By Grace Back
Marie Claire
December 02, 2020

The personal diary entries reflect on the "nature of suffering and humiliations of solitary confinement"

Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse, is set to publish a memoir written during his time in prison that, according to reports, "reflects on the nature of suffering, Pope Francis' papacy and the humiliations of solitary confinement." 

Titled Prison Journal, the reflections recount the first five months of Pell's over 400 days behind bars, while also providing a first-hand account of his legal case, offering personal insights into one of the formerly most prominent figures in the Catholic hierarchy.

The West Australian newspaper published excerpts from an advance copy of the book, claiming the memoir was "unlikely to change minds."

“The pedophilia crisis remains the greatest blow the church has suffered in Australia,” Pell wrote in one excerpt shared by the newspaper.

“If anyone in the mid-nineties knew the extent of the problem, they did not say so publicly, or to me privately. We thought the Melbourne Response would finish its work in a few years.”

Once the third most powerful man in the Vatican and Australia's most senior Catholic, Pell was found guilty in February 2019 of child sex abuse following a trial in Melbourne.

In April 2020, the High Court upheld Cardinal George Pell's appeal against conviction and acquitted him of five sexual offences. He was subsequently released from Barwon Prison.

In prison diaries released from that time, Pell wrote that staff were "courteous and decent" during his time at the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne and at Barwon, but that he had to sometimes endure "petty humiliations" such as wearing handcuffs and being strip-searched.

When Pell's conviction was overturned, the survivora former choirboy known as Witness J—released a statement saying he was relieved the court process was over. 

“My journey has been long and I am relieved that it is over,” he said in the statement through his lawyer Dr Vivian Waller. “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.”

Witness J also shared his acceptance of the High Court judgment, which acquitted Pell of his child sexual abuse charges due to a lack of evidence—despite a jury finding Pell guilty in 2018 after Witness J gave credible evidence.


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