Cardinal George Pell abuse allegations being investigated
MULTIPLE child abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell are being investigated by police, including those by two men who say they were groped by Mr Pell at a Ballarat swimming pool in the late 1970s.
One of the men, Lyndon Monument, told ABC's 7.30 he did not come forward earlier because of the Cardinal's position.
I didn't like it, but because it was a church and he was George Pell, we just - you just weren't game to ever say anything, you know what I mean," Mr Monument told 7.30.
Cardinal Pell "emphatically and unequivocally" denied the allegations, describing any claim that he sexually abused anyone as "totally untrue and completely wrong".
Cardinal Pell is Australia's most highly ranked Catholic figure, and works inside the Vatican where he acts as a key adviser to Pope Francis.
The two men have each given separate statements to Victoria Police's "Taskforce SANO" -- a unit that specifically investigates allegations that arise from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
7.30 reported that allegations also include incidents which allegedly occurred while Cardinal Pell was the Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
According to the ABC, reporters had obtained eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family members who were helping the taskforce with its investigation.
The full statement from Cardinal Pell in response to the ABC allegations is below:
Cardinal Pell will not be giving an interview to the ABC 7.30 Report.
He emphatically and unequivocally rejects any allegations of sexual abuse against him.
The Cardinal's conduct has been repeatedly scrutinised over many years, including before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child exual Abuse, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and according to leaked reports, by Victorian Police's SANO Taskforce.
One of the claims dates back to the early 60s which was the subject of an exhaustive inquiry in 2002 by a former Supreme Court Judge Alec Southwell, who found the allegations were not substantiated.
The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse.
However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong.
He denies the allegations absolutely, and says that they, and any acceptance of them by the ABC, are nothing more than a scandalous smear campaign which appears to be championed by the ABC.
If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the Royal Commission by now.
In February this year media outlets carried stories of purported allegations against the Cardinal which were being investigated by the SANO Taskforce.
However, no request has been made to interview Cardinal Pell nor has he received any details of these claims from the police or anyone.
In late May the Cardinal was advised by the SANO Taskforce that there had been no change in the status of the investigation since the leaks were first reported.
When Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was asked in June this year if there were any plans to speak with Cardinal Pell in Rome he replied ".....it had not been put as necessary to me at this point in time".