Latest News

An Important Message To Abuse Survivors In The Wake Of The George Pell Ruling

We believe you. We support you. We stand beside you.

Three words are trending on Twitter right now: devastating, disgraceful and Pell.

When we found out the High Court of Australia had overturned Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for historic child sexual abuse charges, we were – understandably – devastated and disgraced. Clearly, so was the rest of Australia. 

Our thoughts are with every single abuse survivor today. Please know: we believe you, we support you, we stand beside you.

It is important to note that Pell was convicted by a jury in 2018 for abusing two choirboys in the 1990s based on the credibility of the witness – and he was let off by the arguments of lawyers on a point of law. The High Court judgment found there was not enough evidence to convict Pell and acquitted him of his charges. Every court who heard the survivor give evidence, convicted Pell; the High Court was the first court that didn’t view that evidence.

The judgment is a stinging slap in the face to the survivors, witnesses, investigative journalists and lawyers involved in the case, plus the jury who found Pell guilty and Chief Judge Peter Kidd who oversaw the trial and delivered the sentence.

The judgment is a sickening, head-shaking reminder that the law defines legal fact, not truth.

The judgment is an eye-rolling example of how privilege and power trump justice.

However, the judgment doesn’t detract from the bravery and strength of those who’ve spoken out against Pell and his crimes.

Today, our thoughts are with the two unnamed choirboys at the centre of Pell’s trial, one of who lost his life in 2014 aged 31, as a result of the heroin addiction he battled from the age of 14.

Today, our thoughts are with Lyndon Monument, who was one of the first survivors to come forward with sexual abuse allegations against Pell.

Today, our thoughts are with Pell complainant Damian Dignan, who died just before his 48th birthday and before the Pell trial started.

Today, our thoughts are with the survivors who are pursuing civil cases against Pell – and all the survivors who are unable to speak their truth.

In the words of journalist Lucie Morris-Marr, who has covered the Pell case from the beginning, “My deep fear is this judgment will stop those with allegations of child abuse coming forward. It’s a devastating day for witness J in this case. The judgment effectively believed the word of the powerful man.”

Regardless of the court judgment, the court of public support is standing firmly beside survivors.

On Twitter, Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan wrote, “Decent Australians will think with kindness today of vulnerable men who were brave. They won’t forget.”

Fellow journalist Van Badham added, “Dear survivors, we are with you. We will stay with you. We believe you. We are you.”

And author Andrew P Street wrote, “To all survivors: You’re heard. You’re believed. You’re seen. Your bravery is astonishing. Your strength is formidable. I’m so, so sorry for what you’re going through today.”

Along with ‘devastating’ and ‘disgraceful,’ we want to see ‘solidarity’ trending on Twitter today.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.

Related stories