Cardinal George Pell outside court. Picture: AP
Cardinal George Pell outside court. Picture: AP

Pell to face sex abuse lawsuit

GEORGE Pell is being sued over allegations he molested a boy in a swimming pool in the 1970s.

The complainant, now 50, was in the St Joseph's Boys Home in Ballarat from February 1974 until 1978.

He claims he suffered physical and sexual abuse at Pell's hands during that period.

If the Supreme Court ­action, to be lodged on Monday, ­succeeds, the Catholic Church and Pell could face paying hundreds of thousands of ­dollars in damages.

George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne. Picture: Alex Coppel
George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne. Picture: Alex Coppel

The man, who does not wish to be identified, told the Herald Sun he was devastated when prosecutors told him late last year that a criminal case over his allegations would be dropped because it would be difficult to prove Pell's guilt ­beyond a reasonable doubt.

"It took a lot of courage and soul-searching to be prepared to tell my story, accusing one of the most senior Catholics in the world of serious criminal offences, and eventually I was ready to have my day in court," he said.

"But when I was told they had withdrawn the case I felt empty, and that an injustice had occurred."

He is suing Pell, the trustees of Nazareth House, (formerly St Joseph's), the State of ­Victoria and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Arnold Thomas & Becker lawyer Lee Flanagan, representing the complainant, told the Herald Sun that at least three other witnesses would give evidence of similar episodes of abuse against them, perpetrated by Cardinal Pell.

"There was a fourth witness, but he died after charges were laid against Pell. We may seek to tender his statement into evidence in this case," Mr Flanagan said.

According to a statement of claim to be filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria: "He (Cardinal Pell) was playing with the children and let them climb on him in the pool. The plaintiff was told that the man's name was George. Some people called him 'Father'. Upon seeing him on television years later, the plaintiff realised that the man in the pool was (Cardinal Pell)."

The court papers allege that Cardinal Pell sexually abused him in the pool.

Last December, a jury found Pell guilty of sex acts committed against two choirboys in 1996, while he was the Archbishop of Melbourne. Pell, who is now behind bars, will learn his sentence later this month.