Crucial abuse charge against Cardinal Pell ‘likely’ to be dropped
MELBOURNE, Australia, February 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — One of the charges against Australian Cardinal Pell will probably be dropped.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on February 14 from the director of prosecutions that the charge levelled at Pell by the late Damian Dignan was “likely to be withdrawn”.
Ruth Shann, a member of Pell’s defence team, observed that Dignan’s accusation had had a “domino effect” in that it had inspired a number of other complainants to contact police with claims of historic abuse against the prelate.
She had called Dignan an “unreliable witness” and stated that Pell’s lawyers would be examining Dignan’s credibility when the formal four-week committal hearing begins in March.
Dignan died of leukemia in the Australian town of Ballarat in early January, seven months after Cardinal Pell was charged with historic sexual abuse. Dignan made his accusation against the cardinal in March 2016, alleging that Pell had touched him inappropriately in a public swimming pool forty years before. Dignan, who had a criminal record for assault and drunk driving, has also accused former teachers at St. Alipius School of abuse.
Dignan’s allegations, both of inappropriate touching by the cardinal and of abuse by teachers, were corroborated by a former classmate, Lyndon Monument. Monument, a former drug dealer, also has a criminal record for assault.
Cardinal Pell has pled not guilty to all charges and has always maintained his innocence. The head of his defence team, Robert Richter, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the cardinal had been “set up to fall”.
“The cardinal has been set up to fall by people who know nothing about the actual charges,” Richter said. “He’s innocent, and he needs help.”