Sydney Archbishop George Pell denied on Thursday a claim by the lawyer representing a sex abuse victim that he was present when the boy, then a Grade 3 student, recounted his rape by a Christian Brother.
Mr Pell said the account by Melbourne lawyer Vivian Waller are "irresponsible, untrue and are absolutely denied." In her submission to a Parliamentary investigation, Ms Waller alleged that the clergy refused to talk to the boy, a student of St. Alipius School, when he told another priest of the sexual abuse he suffered under the hands of the schools's former principal and teacher, Brother Robert Best
The incident happened in 1969 and that year Mr Pell said he was not yet assigned to Ballarat where the school is. He was appointed to the Sydney diocese in 1973, the cardinal pointed out.
Mr Pell explained he was studying in Oxford in 1969 but returned to Australia in 1971 when he worked at Swan Hill in the Diocese of Ballarat. He was ordained in 1966 and received his second appointment as a priest in East Ballarat in 1973, according to the statement of the cardinal.
In the statement, Mr Pell stressed that "unsubstantiated allegations and personal and false smears are of no assistance to victims or to the inquiry."
Another submission to the parliamentary probe said that a third priest, identified as known pedophile Gerald Ridsdale, offered to deal with the rape complaint of the then Grade 3 male student, but actually beat the victim. It was the second beating the boy got that day, the first came from another Christian Brother, his teacher, who hit the victim until he retracted his rape complaint.
While the cardinal has an apparent strong alibi regarding his physical presence during the incident, the fact of the rape appears to be true because Mr Best was eventually convicted for several sex offences, including rape.
The Victoria police had criticised the manner that religious organisations, whose members are accused on sex offences, try to silence the victims rather than allow the authorities to investigate.
Their observation was bolstered by the submission of Patrick Parkinson, former chairman of the Family Law Council, who said cover-ups of sexual accusations against the clergy were being done by people at the highest level of the Catholic Church nationally. He said he had witnesses first-hand the church's efforts to cover up its failures and wrongdoings in the very recent past.
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