As a former clergy abuse victim, and now legally trained, Maitland's PETER GOGARTY is in a unique position to comment on George Pell's failed appeal in the Victorian Court of Appeal. Here are his views.
"Elated...and stunned". That was my response when a colleague and friend at the University of Newcastle asked me on Wednesday how I felt when I heard that George Pell was to remain in jail for sexually abusing two choir boys in a Melbourne church 22 years ago.
I felt elated because of an overwhelming sense of relief that the damage which would be done to "my cause" if Pell were to be acquitted would not now happen.
I was stunned because everything I have experienced and learnt over almost twenty years speaking up for child abuse survivors and learning about our criminal justice system left me convinced that Pell would walk free.
I should explain myself.
Elation might not be the most noble of responses I could have felt, but in the circumstances I have no guilt about it.
If you take away the title of Cardinal, George Pell is just another man in a tragically long list of convicted paedophile catholic priests.
He was not convicted last year because he was controversial, or because he was one of the most senior people in an institution whose staggering moral failure would be momentous even if they did not profess to represent Jesus on earth.
Nor was he convicted because of his seeming psychopathic disinterest in the suffering of others.
He was convicted because his jury believed beyond reasonable doubt that Pell's accuser was honest, reliable, and compelling - despite one of the best funded defence teams in Australian history trying to discredit him.
That decision has now been vindicated by two of our country's most experienced criminal law judges.
I was stunned because the statistics tell the story of how difficult it is to get a conviction against any paedophile.
It is thought that for every person who reports childhood sexual abuse, there may be as many as four others who never go to the police.
Many of the complaints made to the police never result in charges against the offender.
Only half of the offenders prosecuted are ever convicted and then one in three are released upon appeal.
Historically, less than 10 per cent of child sexual abuse survivors will ever see their offender go to jail.
But not this time.
This time, the jury understood, and the appeals court accepted, that there is rarely, if ever, any corroborating evidence, that small discrepancies in memory have nothing to do with recollections of traumatic events, and that child abuse complainants are to be believed.
For me, elation and disbelief came together because it is now clear that much of what was learnt during the five years of the child abuse royal commission has been listened to and acted upon by Australia's criminal justice system.
On a personal level I remain unashamedly elated that almost 20 years of sometimes distressing work has given me and other child abuse survivors something to be happy about.
I am elated because one of the most powerful men in Australia - perhaps the world - has been treated by our criminal justice system exactly like every other Australian citizen.
I am elated because I firmly believe that other survivors will now be more confident than ever that they will be believed and supported.
There is much work still to be done before I will be convinced that our institutions are unquestionably child safe.
But this is a great step.