Royal Commission Hears Cardinal George Pell Attempted To Buy Sex Abuse Victim’s Silence

A Royal Commission into sex abuse has heard Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, allegedly attempted a cover-up by bribing a victim of long-term sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.

Yesterday, the Royal Commission heard testimony from David Risdale, a victim of sexual abuse from his uncle and now former priest, George Risdale. According to The Age, in 1993 David Risdale sought counsel from Cardinal George Pell, as “He was the only human being in the church whom I believed was still a friend and who I could trust.”
During a phone call to Pell in which Risdale exposed his uncle as a perpetrator of sexual abuse, Pell allegedly told Risdale: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”
David Risdale told the Royal Commission yesterday he then replied to Pell, saying “Fuck you George and everything you stand for,” while later telling his sisters, “The bastard just tried to bribe me.” Risdale clarified that while Pell did not explicitly offer Risdale anything “tangible”, he was, however, “suspicious of his motivations” for directing their conversation as such.

But Cardinal Pell has swiftly denied the allegations, claiming the incident was a “misunderstanding”. Pell said, in a statement, “At no time did I attempt to bribe David Ridsdale or his family or offer any financial inducements for him to be silent.”

A second case heard at the Royal Commission yesterday accused Pell of dismissing allegations of sexual abuse by a clergy brother in 1974 as “ridiculous” to a whistle-blowing student of St Patrick’s Ballarat. Timothy Green, a former student of St Patrick’s, now 53, recounted an interaction with George Pell to the commission yesterday, saying: 

“I was saying something like, ‘we’ve got to do something about what’s going on at St Pat’s…Father Pell said, ‘yes what do you mean?’ I said Brother Dowlan is touching little boys. Father Pell said ‘don’t be ridiculous’ and walked out.” 
Green claimed the incident was a cover-up, saying that Pell’s reaction indicated he was aware Dowlan’s sexual abuse, but “couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it”.
In this case, Pell was also accused of bribing a priest’s victim. Pell continued to deny the allegations, saying, “over the last 24 hours I have been accused of being complicit in the moving of a known paedophile, of ignoring a victim’s complaint, and of bribery.”
The Royal Commission into sex abuse is ongoing. 
Lead image by Brendon Thorne via Getty.