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Pell's accuser weighs up his options

The man at the centre of allegations levelled at the Catholic archbishop of Sydney remained unsure on Friday as to whether he would pursue his complaint against George Pell.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday that Peter Ward, a partner with Galbally and O'Bryan, the legal firm acting for the complainant, said his client still wished to co-operate with the internal church inquiry but the issue of legal funding remained unresolved.

"His priority is to co-operate and be part of the process but he doesn't want to go in by himself," Mr Ward said. "He is afraid going into it alone against an almighty legal team."

The Church has confirmed it will not financially assist the complainant or Dr Pell during the inquiry. The complainant, who alleges Dr Pell sexually assaulted him at a Victorian church camp in 1961, was to consider his options over the weekend, Mr Ward said.

Under the church's Towards Healing protocol, a priest or religious facing sexual misconduct allegations is required to pay their own costs, if they chose to have independent legal representation. But under section 40.5 of the protocol, the church may at its discretion issue a loan to the accused to cover such expenses.

A brief statement issued yesterday by the legal firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth confirmed that the Melbourne QC Michael Rozenes would not be representing Dr Pell. Mr Rozenes had represented Dr Pell's accuser in an unrelated matter 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, The Magdalene Sisters, a feature film that looks at abuse and cruelty inside an Irish Catholic institution, won the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion award announced yesterday.

The movie, directed by Peter Mullan, has been criticised by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. It tells the true story of four supposedly promiscuous girls interned in the Magdalene Asylums in the 1960s who were forced to work as virtual slaves in laundries and suffered abuse at the hands of the Sisters of Mercy.

And in the United States, the Jesuits have agreed to pay $A13.7 million to two men who say they were sexually molested for 30 years at the Californian retirement home for priests where they worked as dishwashers. The men, identified only as "John Doe", 56, and "James Doe", 51, complained of the abuse for years but were ignored until a local shop owner, Holly Ilse, decided to pursue their allegations of sodomy, molestation and false imprisonment.

Archbishop's sex probe may be called off (CNN)
Catholic convent film under fire (AP)

SMH/Reuters/The Guardian

9 Sep 2002