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Dr Vivian Waller is a solicitor and the principal of Waller Legal, a legal practice dedicated to looking after victims of crime and those who have endured sexual assault or child abuse. She was admitted to legal practice in 1995 and has represented victim/survivors of sexual assault for nearly 20 years.
'I was angry inside': being at George Pell sentencing was hard, father of victim says
2019-03-13
by Melissa Davey -The Guardian

Father wants to ‘hug’ the man whose powerful testimony brought the cardinal to justice.

Protesters outside Melbourne’s county court where Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in jail for child sexual abuse. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

The father of one of Cardinal George Pell’s victims, who died following a heroin overdose in 2014 and who never disclosed being abused, said he wanted to “hug” the man whose powerful testimony brought Pell to justice.

On Wednesday Pell was sentenced by chief judge Peter Kidd to six years in jail with a non-parole period of three years and eight months. The complainant, identified only as J, first told police in 2015 about the abuse of himself and the other boy. It resulted in a trial in which Pell was unanimously found guilty by a jury of five child sexual abuse charges. The other boy was identified only as R. Both boys were 13 when Pell abused them while they were choirboys in 1996.

“Listening to the judge in there was hard,” R’s father said following the sentencing, which was broadcast live around the world. “I was angry inside. I felt like my son’s life was wasted. Why was it wasted for some guy’s two minutes of pleasure? It’s not easy to describe, it’s not even easy to even stand here and talk. It’s stuff that destroys families, it destroys people.”

He described R as “a typical boy” when he was a child. “He got into mischief. He was honest. He liked helping his grandparents. He’d always disappear and I’d ring up my mum and she’d say, ‘Oh yeah he’s been here for the last two hours helping me cook’.”

He described sitting in the court and listening to the sentence as “extremely difficult”.
“I watched him [Pell] being walking out of that court and I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m going to sleep in my bed tonight. Where are you sleeping?’.” But, he said, “It’s not going to bring my son back.”

He remembered going to AFL games with his son, always sitting in the members’ area, and said his son would go and buy bottles of water for the elderly women, Carlton supporters, who sat behind them.

“Every week they’d come along with containers of lollies and cakes and things and there would always be a cake there for my son,” he said.

R died in 2014 at the age of 30 of an accidental overdose. By then he had been suffering from drug addiction and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

R’s father said his son’s suffering and spiral into addiction now made sense. He will launch a civil case against the church led by Shine Lawyers.

Shine’s national abuse law manager, Lisa Flynn, said: “For many, the battle against the Catholic church has just begun.

“I admire the courage of my client to keep fighting on behalf of his deceased son. To him, this battle is not over.”

J made a statement which was read by his lawyer, Viv Waller, outside the county court following the sentence. J has remained anonymous throughout the process of complaining to police and testifying to the court. His evidence was described by those who saw it as eloquent, honest and powerful.

“I respect what the judge said. It was meticulous and it was considered. It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment,” J said.

“I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child. However, there is no rest for me. Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.

“I am aware of a lot of public comment by people who are critical of my evidence. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, a few facts will always remain. I gave evidence for several days. I was cross-examined by Pell’s defence counsel. A jury has unanimously accepted the truth of my evidence. I have played my part as best I can. I took the difficult step of reporting to police about a high-profile person, and I stood up to give my evidence.”

A decision as to whether Pell’s case will be eligible for appeal will be made in June.

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