The father of a young man who's at the centre of the historic sex abuse case against Cardinal George Pell gave evidence in court on Wednesday. Speaking to the Melbourne Magistrate's Court, the father said his son never told him that he had been abused by Australia's top Catholic priest.
The man said he was shocked when police came to take a statement from him about the alleged sexual offences against his son, a year after the young man's death in 2014. His son had been battling with heroin addiction for some time, the father explained, but the boy never told him it was linked to any sexual abuse.
"He made the comment that he certainly liked doing it [heroin]," the father told the court via videolink. "He enjoyed doing it and it was nobody's fault that he was doing it."
The testimony was the first thing either the public or the media has been privy to in this hearing, since it started last week. Before the father's testimony, complainants had been giving their statements in closed sessions, which is routine for sexual offence cases in Victoria.
Beyond today's testimony, little can be reported about the allegations levelled against Cardinal Pell because of legal reasons. Officially, the man often called "2IC at the Vatican" has been charged with "historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complaints."
Also in court today, Cardinal Pell's lawyer quizzed Bernard Barrett from Broken Rites, a victim advocacy group started by survivors of sex abuse in the Catholic Church. According to Barrett, he first had a conversation with the alleged victim's mother in 2014—this time about possible abuse against her son by another priest who died back in 2002. It wasn't until about six months later, he said, that he actually talked to Pell's accuser about the Cardinal.
Robert Richter QC accused the Broken Rites campaigner of raising Pell's name with the alleged victim. Barrett denied this, saying it was the alleged victim who brought the Cardinal up in their conversation.
Cardinal Pell has consistently denied all charges against him. The committal hearing will continue in Melbourne, determining whether or not the case should go to trial.
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