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Cardinal Pell to be sued over alleged swimming pool abuse

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One of the complainants from the now-dropped second trial is filing a civil lawsuit

A man who claims he was molested by George Pell in a swimming pool in the 1970s is filing a lawsuit against the cardinal.

The man, who was one of four complainants to give evidence against Pell in the now-dismissed second trial, alleges that the cardinal and a nun assaulted him while he was resident in St Joseph’s boy’s home from 1974 to 1978.

The lawsuit, filed at Victoria’s supreme court, also names the Sisters of Nazareth (who were responsible for the management of St Joseph’s at the time), the state of Victoria and the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

The man, who is now 50, is seeking damages for psychiatric injury, medical expenses and loss of wages.

Lee Flanagan, Managing Partner of Arnold Thomas & Becker, which is leading the case, said: “David (not his real name), was one of the four complainants dubbed the ‘swimmers’, and alleges he was sexually assaulted by Pell in a swimming pool in Ballarat.”

“He was devastated when the prosecution decided not to proceed with his case.”

The so-called “swimmers trial” collapsed in February after prosecutors dropped the charges. They said there was not enough evidence to suggest Pell’s touching of one of the boys was deliberate. Pell has denied the allegations.

David says that Pell was playing with the children at the St Joseph’s pool. “On the day in the pool, [Pell] put a finger between the plaintiff’s buttocks through his bathers on three or four occasions,” the statement of claim says.

Flanagan said Arnold Thomas & Becker will call at least three other witnesses who allege similar episodes of abuse by Pell.

The statement also alleges severe abuse at the hands of a nun who worked in the home. David alleges that the nun hit him hard on the head while he slept and even rubbed his own excrement in his mouth.

Pell’s legal team and the Sisters of Nazareth have so far not commented on the allegations.