Cardinal Pell’s accuser dies before court case

Vatican cloud



9 January 2018


Cover image: Clouds hang over St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on the day Cardinal Geroge Pell was charged with sexual assault offences (AP: Gregorio Borgia)


Isaac GomesDamian Dignan, who lived in the Victorian town of Ballarat, made allegations that were strenuously denied by the Australian cardinal.  Damian who publicly accused Australia’s most senior Catholic cardinal, George Pell, of child sexual abuse has died following a long illness, less than two years after his public accusation of the Cardinal. In an explosive television interview, Mr Dignan and another alleged victim accused Pell of touching his genitals at a swimming pool in Ballarat.  This is a development that could weaken the case against the Cardinal. Experts said the death of Mr Dignan could affect the criminal case against Pell and may require prosecutors to rethink their approach. Only time will tell whether the Pope reinstate him to oversee the Vatican Finances as  Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and carry out the financial reforms?  Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.


Damian Dignan, who lived in the Victorian town of Ballarat, made allegations that were strenuously denied by Cardinal Pell, The Guardian reported.

Dignan was one of several complainants who made allegations against Cardinal Pell of historical sexual offences.

Dignan’s death was confirmed by his former partner, Sharon Rixon. “It is with great sadness that my best friend and the father of my children has passed away today,” she wrote on Facebook. “I will continue to love and guide and support our children through this difficult time.”

QC and former chief Victorian magistrate and crown prosecutor Nicholas Papas said Dignan’s death would affect the structure of Cardinal Pell's upcoming court case in Melbourne.

“The death of a witness is generally very serious and can affect whether the case proceeds or not,” he said. 

George Pell holds his hands up as he speaks.

Cardinal George Pell

“But it’s not as simple as that as there may be other evidence or witnesses. In a murder case, for example, the victim is obviously never there and yet a case can proceed. So it’s not that it’s unusual for witnesses to be dead, but in a case where an allegation involved historical sexual assault and there may be no other direct witnesses to that abuse, it can seriously affect the case.”




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