Catholic Church abuse survivors have recalled in harrowing detail the moment they told Cardinal George Pell about their childhood suffering and his heartless reaction to their pain.
Raymond Newton and Sonia St Claire appeared in Tuesday night’s episode of A Current Affair where they opened up about the horrific sexual assault they endured while in the care of the church and alleged Pell’s blasé attitude when they confided in him years later.
Newton told the Nine Network show that he spoke to Pell in 1996 and told him about the years of sexual abuse he suffered at a Melbourne Catholic school during the 1970s.
“Cardinal Pell looked at me and said, ‘Did you like it?’” Newton claimed.
Newton said he was taken to the school basement as a child and repeatedly abused by a priest who told him it was “God’s way” and in “God’s teachings”.
Like many abuse survivors, Newton said the years of horrific, repetitive assault had consumed his life and taken away his dignity.
That Pell’s alleged reaction to his confession was so cold only made matters worse.
St Claire told a similar story about Pell when she confided in him about the shocking abuse she and her twin sister Sarah were subjected to during 14 years they spent in five orphanages run by the Catholic Church in the 1950 and ’60s.
Sonia has written a book, titled The Girl in the Locker, about their time at the orphanages in which she detailed the horrific sexual abuse, sexual slavery and physical violence they endured as young girls.
Speaking to A Current Affair, she said she spoke to Pell in 1992 and told him about what had happened to her and her sister. She said Pell’s reaction was cold and that seemed uninterested in what she had to say.
“He was distant, he was very uncomfortable, he treated me with contempt, and he didn’t want to know,” she said.
“He could have inspired people, uplifted people with his words. Instead he chose to violate little boys.”
The troubling recollections come ahead of Pell’s sentencing on Wednesday. The cardinal was convicted in December on five counts of child sex abuse against the two teenage choirboys during his time as Archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell was found guilty of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16, which his lawyer likened to “oral rape”, and four charges of an indecent act with a child under the age of 16.
He plans to appeal his conviction, but is expected to spend time behind bars until the appeals case is heard.