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Victim of Pell assault ‘relieved’ at court’s decision to quash appeal 

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Relief

The judges at the Court of Appeal rejected Pell’s appeal in a majority two-to-one decision and upheld his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s.

“It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful,” the victim said through his lawyer, Vivian Waller, after the court decision on Wednesday.

“The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could 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.”

In the state of Victoria, where the trial took place, publishing anything that may tend to identify the victims of sexual abuse is prohibited under law.

Pell’s victim was identified as JJ by the sentencing judge. The other victim died in 2014.

JJ said he “felt a responsibility to come forward” after attending the funeral of his childhood friend, the other choirboy, who died of an accidental drug overdose – which has been blamed on the abuse.

“I knew he had been in a dark place. I was 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 happened to me.”

JJ said he did not report to the police for his personal gain.

“I have risked my privacy, my health, my well-being, my family… This is not about money and never has been,” he said, adding he is “not on a mission to do anybody any harm.”

“My journey has not been an easy one. It has been all the more stressful because the case involved a high-profile figure,” said JJ, who recently became a father.

“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.”

“I just hope that it is all over now.”

Meanwhile, the father of the late victim said he shed “tears of relief in the courtroom when the judgement was handed down this morning.”

“It’s been an extremely tough wait for our client who has had to deal with the awful thought that maybe the man who destroyed his son’s life could have his conviction overturned,” said Lisa Flynn, the lawyer for the father.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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