The sister of a man, who was allegedly abused by Cardinal George Pell in the 1970s has spoken out, claiming she’s “comfortable” with the court’s decision to drop the second trial, praising the jury for their guilty verdict.
Karen Monument, whose sibling Lyndon was allegedly sexually assaulted by Pell at a Ballarat swimming pool years ago, told The Age she was “compelled” to share her message after the eventful week.
Sharing a statement with the publication following the Cardinal’s conviction, Karen explained the “dark times” her family has been through since her brother decided to come forward with the allegations almost four years ago and how her “faith in being human” has been restored by the jury’s decision.
“What dampens my rage and instead restores my faith in being human is how the public has sent the strongest message to these men of white privilege and power,” she said in the statement.
“You no longer rule our world.The well-deserved public backlash that has been directed at these men has been both eloquent and raw and completely united in its message – you are no longer of much interest to us.”
Karen went on to thank the 12 people on the jury, noting how stressful the process would have been. She also sent a message of support to victims of sexual abuse.
“In all of this noise, their message comes through quietly, powerfully and is directed to those who have not yet come forward and sadly to those who are yet to have their experience – you are safe, we believe you,” she wrote.
Her comments follow an apology from Pell’s lawyer earlier in the week, who said sorry for using a “terrible choice of phrase” in court on Wednesday, when he described the Cardinal’s abuse of two teenage choirboys as a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case”.
Robert Richter was slammed for his choice of words, which came during a plea hearing for Pell, who has been convicted of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys during the 1990s.
Speaking in court on Wednesday, the lawyer claimed it was “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating … no aggravating circumstances”.
Richter says: Pell's offending was "No more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating..no aggravating circumstances." Kidd "It must be clear to you by now I’m struggling with that submission. Looking at your points here; so what?"
— Melissa Davey (@MelissaLDavey) February 27, 2019
Following widespread backlash from sexual abuse victims and members of the general public, Richter was forced to apologise for his choice of words.
On Thursday night he released a statement claiming he never meant to “belittle” or offend victims of sex abuse and had spent a “sleepless night reflecting upon the terrible choice of phrase”.
“I offer my sincerest apologies to all who were hurt or offended by it. No offence was intended,” he wrote in a statement shared on Twitter by ABC reporter Emma Younger.
“In seeking to mitigate sentence I used a wholly inappropriate phrase for which I apologise profusely to all who interpreted it in a way it was never intended: it was in no way meant to belittle or minimise the suffering and hurt of victims of sex abuse and in retrospect I can see why it caused great offence to many.”