Pell hires lawyers to cross-examine victims accusing him

Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell will cross-examine victims who allege he was complicit in a cover-up of clergy sexual abuse.

The move comes despite a commitment by the Australian Catholic Church not to subject victims of child sexual abuse to gruelling cross-examination.

Cardinal Pell denies the allegations against him concerning the period when he was a priest in Ballarat.

He has engaged Melbourne “mega-advocate” Allan Myers to test his accusers.

His legal representation will be separate from that of the Church.

A hearing by Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse regarding Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat will take place next month.

Cardinal Pell will return to Melbourne from Rome to give his evidence.

This will be the third time the cardinal has appeared before the royal commission.

Truth Justice and Healing Council head Francis Sullivan said while it was Church policy not to cross-examine victims, Cardinal Pell was in a different situation.

“The cardinal has obviously chosen separate legal representation because in the first part of the Ballarat hearings serious personal allegations have been made against him,” he said.

“We, the council, fully support the fact that he will need to take the option of possibly having his lawyers cross examine that evidence.

“The royal commission has made it clear that in order for it to make appropriate findings all evidence needs to be put on the table and in order for that occur, individuals making allegations need to have their evidence tested directly.”

In royal commission hearings in Melbourne this month, Pell’s role as an auxiliary bishop in that archdiocese is to be scrutinised.


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