International

‘Lots of stuff came back’: Complainant came forward after seeing George Pell on TV

One of Cardinal George Pell's alleged victims came forward after seeing allegations against Australia's most senior Catholic cleric air on television, a Melbourne court has been told.

At the start of the third week of a hearing to determine whether the 76-year-old should stand trial, a solicitor told the Melbourne Magistrates' Court one of the complainants made a historical allegation against Cardinal Pell in November 2016.

Simon Acott, from Melbourne-based law firm Waller Legal, said the man told him that he was "abused" by Cardinal Pell at a swimming pool in country Victoria.

The court was told the law firm specialises in clerical sexual abuse compensation claims.

The men were having a meeting to discuss whether the man could apply for compensation over abuse he'd suffered at the hands of another priest, when the allegation against Cardinal Pell was raised, the court heard.

"Lots of stuff came back to me when I saw the TV special on George Pell," the man allegedly told Mr Acott.

Defence barrister Ruth Shann grilled Mr Acott on whether he had first asked about Cardinal Pell or if the name had been volunteered by the man.

Mr Acott replied that "it wasn't asked for, it was volunteered".

But he was not able to recollect how it had come up during their meeting.

Ms Shann also asked Mr Acott if he was aware that the law firm's principal, Dr Vivian Waller, had had public stoushes with Cardinal Pell, including making allegations about him in 2014 that were later proven to be impossible.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC objected to the question, telling the court it was an attack on Dr Waller's credibility.

Ms Shann instead asked if Dr Waller had "expressed enthusiasm" about referring allegations against Cardinal Pell to police.

Mr Acott said that she had recently asked to have any mentions of Cardinal Pell by clients, referred to her directly.

'Nothing untoward'

Two other witnesses who regularly frequented the pool where Cardinal Pell was often seen also gave evidence.

One told the court that he had never seen Cardinal Pell doing anything "untoward".

He said he would see him playing with children at the pool by throwing them in the air by clasping his hands together to give them a foot up before launching them into the water.

Ms Shann asked the man whether Cardinal Pell had invited the boys to play or whether they had initiated the game.

The man said he did not recall him saying "come over" because they had "all wanted a go".

Another woman who would often take her daughter to the pool said she'd never seen him acting inappropriately there.

Cardinal Pell was joined in court by church official Katrina Lee.

He strenuously denies all allegations made against him.

The committal hearing before Magistrate Belinda Wallington continues.

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