Father of ex-choirboy sues George Pell, Church

George Pell faces civil lawsuit

The father of a deceased ex-choirboy is suing Cardinal George Pell and the Catholic Church, claiming he has suffered psychological injury over his son’s alleged sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pell was acquitted in 2020 after the High Court quashed his convictions for child sexual assault related to allegations he molested two choirboys in the late 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

He served 13 months in prison before being released.

One choirboy’s father has filed a civil case seeking damages against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the 81-year-old Cardinal Pell in Victoria’s Supreme Court.

The man is not identified and is listed under a pseudonym.

He claims to have suffered nervous shock arising from his son’s alleged sexual assault by Cardinal Pell.

He has suffered from chronic adjustment disorder and persistent complex bereavement disorder, with mixed anxiety and a depressed mood, court documents reveal.

The father also said he had lost money due to medical expenses and had lost his earning capacity.

Justice Michael McDonald asked lawyers representing the Church whether they were going to rely on the Ellis defence, during a brief hearing on Thursday.

The Ellis defence, which allowed the Catholic Church to deny liability to sexual abuse survivors, was abolished in Victoria in 2018.

Unincorporated associations, such as churches, now have to nominate an entity able to pay damages.

However, it is unclear whether the defence could still be used in cases brought by secondary victims, including victims’ families.

Catholic Archdiocese barrister Geraldine Gray told the court the Church had not yet decided whether it will use the Ellis defence.

Justice McDonald said he was “somewhat flabbergasted” the issue wasn’t dealt with before the hearing.

“If the Ellis defence isn’t going to be taken, the proceedings would go ahead,” he said.

He set down a hearing for August 4 on the question of whether the Ellis defence will apply.


Topics: George Pell
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