George Pell in 2000. Picture: Sasha Baskett.
George Pell in 2000. Picture: Sasha Baskett.

The accusations that have plagued Pell

The condemnation flowed thick and fast this week after it was revealed Cardinal George Pell was guilty of child sexual abuse charges.

Many had been waiting a long time for this day.

Over the years Pell has become a divisive figure for his dealings with victims of child sexual abuse and his association with paedophiles like the notorious Gerard Ridsdale.

The revelation that Pell was himself a paedophile comes after years of accusations.

 

1961: THE BOYS CAMP

The first inkling that Pell was himself being accused of child sex offences emerged in August 2002 in an article published online in Indymedia.

Former altar boy Phil Scott later alleged Pell put his hands down his pants to grab a "good handful" of his penis and testicles during activities like pillow-fighting or wrestling, while at camp on Phillip Island. Scott was 12 years old at the time and Pell was a 20-year-old trainee priest.

Scott also accused Pell of trying to touch his genitals or trying to guide his hands to touch Pell's genitals during a walk and other public activities.

The church set up an internal investigation called the Southwell Inquiry to look into the allegations in September 2002.

Retired Supreme Court justice Alec Southwell said he thought Scott was "speaking honestly from an actual recollection" but also thought Pell was telling the truth too.

Scott's credibility was an issue because of drinking-driving and assault convictions dating back to when he was an alcoholic, bookmaking offences and a conviction for dealing speed.

The lack of other corroborating evidence led Southwell to found he was "not satisfied that the complaint has been established".

George Pell during a media conference at St Mary's Cathedral House in 2002.
George Pell during a media conference at St Mary's Cathedral House in 2002.

1970s: THE SWIMMING POOL

More than 10 years later another story emerged that Victoria Police were investigating Pell for alleged abuse. The Herald Sun published the article in 2016 and 7.30 later aired claims from two former students of St Alipius Primary School that Pell molested them at Eureka swimming pool in Ballarat.

Lyndon Monument and Damian Dignan said the alleged abuse would occur during a game Pell played with them in the pool. It involved Pell clasping his hands under the water and then lifting kids into the air and 'bombing' them. Other times they would stand on his shoulders and dive into the water.

7.30 reporter Louise Milligan broke the story and later wrote a bookCardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell detailing these and other allegations.

Monument alleged Pell would let one hand go and use his other hand to hold up his crotch area. He claims he remembers feeling Pell's fingers at the entrance to his anus.

Dignan alleges similar behaviour and said things got "a bit rough around the testes, around the anus".

Monument claims Pell also acted strangely in the changerooms, insisting the boys go there together with him. He would allegedly get naked in front of them and watch as the boys dried themselves off. They would then put their bathers back on and jump back in the pool.

It was these allegations that were to be heard as part of the "swimmers trial" in Victoria County Court this year. Pell has denied these allegations of sexual abuse.

This year prosecutors decided to drop the case after the judge ruled certain "tendency evidence" could not be used.

It's understood police wanted to call two witnesses to show evidence there was a "tendency" towards a certain behaviour.

Lyndon Monument alleged Pell grabbed his crotch area during swimming sessions.
Lyndon Monument alleged Pell grabbed his crotch area during swimming sessions.

1980s: THE SURF CLUB

The 7.30 episode that aired in 2016 also featured claims from Torquay resident Les Tyack, who alleges he saw Pell standing naked in front of three young boys at the local surf life saving club in the late 1980s.

Tyack said he was shocked because most people getting changed will usually face the wall but said Pell was allegedly facing the young boys.

"He was just standing there, naked, in full view of the three boys and just staring at the boys," he later told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Tyack claims he told the boys to get going before turning to Pell and saying to him "I know what you're up to, piss off, get out of here, if I see you back in this club again, I'll call the police".

Tyack said he was very suspicious Pell had been exposing himself to the boys and that Pell allegedly did not say anything when challenged about it.

George Pell in 2006.
George Pell in 2006.

1997: THE CATHEDRAL

This week the world learned that Pell had been found guilty in December of abusing two 13-year-old boys in the sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1997.

Police charged Pell in 2017 after first interviewing him in Rome in October 2016 about the allegations.

The boys, one of who died from a drug overdose in 2014, had snuck into the sacristy, a room where priests get changed, to drink sacramental wine after Sunday mass.

"(Pell) planted himself in the doorway and said something like, 'What are you doing here' or 'You're in trouble'," the complainant told a jury last year.

The court heard one of the boys asked: "Can you let us go? We didn't do anything."

But instead, the then-archbishop of Melbourne pulled one of the boys aside and pushed his head down to his penis.

After a few minutes, he turned his attention to the other choirboy, and forced him to perform oral sex before fondling him as he masturbated.

RELATED: Why the complainant in Pell's case was so compelling

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WATCH: George Pell's police interview

The former choirboy told the jury the ordeal lasted just a few minutes but a few months later he was abused by Pell on a second occasion.

At the time Pell had just become Archbishop of Melbourne.

The complainant's story has never been told publicly, other than the fragments referred to by lawyers in the trial. But his testimony was what finally brought down one of the most powerful Catholic figures in the world.

Pell has now lodged an appeal based on three grounds, including that it was "unreasonable" to convict him on the testimony of one victim.

"The verdicts are unreasonable and cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence, because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the complainant alone," his first appeal ground says.

Pell is also arguing that there was a "fundamental irregularity" in the trial process because he was not able to enter a not guilty plea in front of the jury. The third ground is that his defence lawyer should not have been stopped from using a "moving visual representation" as part of its closing argument.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday. Picture: Andy Brownbill
Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday. Picture: Andy Brownbill

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