Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer Nick Hart is a national abuse lawyer who represents abuse survivors in the common law system from around Australia.
Ever since Pell’s appeal to the High Court, Nick has seen enquires regarding sex abuse increase steadily.
He says today’s decision will bring a variety of responses from abuse survivors, some of who will continue to suffer in silence now that Pell’s sex abuse convictions have been overturned by the High Court.
“Survivors were given the confidence to come forward and report the abuse they had suffered and to seek justice, when the appeal judges dismissed George Pell’s case on 21 August last year,” he said.
“Under the civil system, abuse survivors will still be entitled to bring a common law abuse claim against George Pell, even now that his guilty verdict has been overturned.
“It may be that we see other victims of Pell potentially come forward.
“The child abuse royal commission can now release their unredacted findings into how church leaders in Ballarat and Melbourne handled the abuse that went on there.”
“However, some abuse survivors who have stayed silent may be deterred from coming forward at all and we don’t want that.
“The reality is that they have all be watching closely, and some would have been relying on this final decision for the strength to come forward now or in future.
“It’s a sad fact that with his sex abuse convictions being overturned today by the High Court, many abuse victims would continue suffering in silence and may lose hope that they will ever be believed.
“This is why it’s important to advocate for abuse survivors and for their ability to ensure their voices are heard and that justice is pursued, against the Catholic Church and other institutions and that they are made accountable.”