Guardian Australia’s Melbourne bureau chief, Melissa Davey covered Cardinal George Pell’s evidence at the royal commission into child sexual abuses, and attended each of his trials for his alleged historic sexual offences against children — his committal hearing, mistrial, retrial, and appeal.
What she saw, heard, and read made her determined to produce a dispassionate and thorough rendition of what occurred. The Case of George Pell is the result — an authoritative account of those trials, of the basis for the guilty verdict, and of the backlash to that verdict. It is inevitably not only about Cardinal Pell, but about justice in the age of conservative media, about culture wars, and about the broader context of clergy abuse.
Despite a five-year-long sexual-abuse enquiry, three trials of one of the most senior Catholics in the world, and saturation coverage of the issue, it became evident to Ms Davey that many myths about the nature of child sexual abuse persist — and that, for some people, the evidence of victims can never be allowed to tarnish the reputation of the church and its practitioners.
The Case of George Pell is not just about one alleged offender, and one complainant. It is also about how the sexual abuse of children occurs — and has been allowed to continue.