21 August 2019, The Tablet

The full statement of Witness J in the Cardinal Pell sex abuse case

by Witness J

'Although my faith has taken a battering, it is still part of my life and part of the lives of my loved ones.'

The full statement of Witness J in the Cardinal Pell sex abuse case

Man and boy
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Full statement from Cardinal Pell’s victim, known as Witness J, released 21 August 2019


I am relieved by the decision of the court of appeal. It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful. The journey has taken me to places that in my darkest moments I feared I would not return from.

The justice machine rolls on with all of its processes and punditry, almost forgetting about the people at the heart of the matter.

Despite this, I appreciate that the criminal process afforded Pell every opportunity to challenge the charges and to be heard. I am glad he had the best legal representation money can buy. There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal justice system and the appeal process is one of them.

I just hope that it is all over now.

Some commentators have suggested that I reported to the police somehow for my own personal gain. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have risked my privacy, my health, my wellbeing and my family. I have not instructed any solicitor in relation to a claim for compensation.

This is not about money and it never has been.

Some commentators have suggested that I am somehow out to cause damage to the Catholic church. I am not on a mission to do anybody any harm. Although my faith has taken a battering, it is still part of my life and part of the lives of my loved ones.

I am not an advocate. You wouldn’t know my name. I am not a champion for the cause of sexual abuse survivors, although I am glad that those advocates are out there. But that is not my path.

After attending the funeral of my childhood friend, the other choir boy, I felt a responsibility to come forward. I knew that he had been in a dark place, I have been in a dark place. I gave a statement to the police because I was thinking of him and his family.

I felt I should say what I saw and what had happened to me. I had experienced something terrible as a child and I wanted some good to come of it. I would like to acknowledge my friend who passed away, the other choir boy.

I would like to acknowledge the courage of those people who reported to the police. For one reason or another, those matters did not proceed. My heart goes out to you.

I would like to acknowledge the Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions. I am grateful for the steady hand of His Honour Chief Judge Kidd in guiding the trial and his compassionate, balanced and fair sentencing.

In February, due to other cases not going ahead, I ended up in the spotlight alone. The suppression order was to be lifted and I suddenly found myself in the centre of world wide media interest. I asked Viv Waller to help me manage the considerable media interest in the case.

I could not afford legal representation but that did not matter to her. I will be forever grateful that Viv agreed to help me and to do so for free. She has liaised with the media on my behalf. She has allowed the storms of public opinion to buffet her so that my young family could find safe harbour.

My journey has not been an easy one. It has been all the more stressful because it involved a high profile figure. I thank the media for respecting my privacy and for continuing to protect my identity. I need to be able to define myself away from all of this.

Recently, I have started a new chapter in my life as a father. The experiences I have been through have helped me understand what is truly important.

I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law.

What do you think?


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