There are few stories from the bible which have pervaded modern culture quite like that of David and Goliath.
The lone sheep farmer who felled a giant with nothing more than a stone and a sling has transcended its religious origins to become the definitive standard of the underdog prevailing against their adversary.
Of the meek standing tall over the mighty.
Of good defeating evil.
So symbolic is the fight to take a stand against the power that it’s become woven into the fabric of Shine’s ethos.
So, the gravity of the firm being entrusted to seek justice against the man many children sexual abuse survivors saw as the Goliath of the catholic church was enormous.
"Shine was one of the first firms to act for survivors of abuse and had been doing so long before the royal commission took place. We’ve taken on institutions and individuals across the country, but there’d be no bigger name than George Pell.”
- Lisa Flynn, Shine Lawyers Chief Legal Officer
Our client is officially referred to as ‘RWQ’- a pseudonym he was given to protect his identity by order of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
His son was one of the choir boys Pell was convicted, and then acquitted, of sexually abusing in the 90s. The cardinal, then the world’s third most powerful Catholic, had spent more than a year behind bars before the High Court of Australia quashed his criminal conviction.
RWQ had watched his son’s life fall apart before it ultimately ended because of a drug overdose. It wasn’t until he was visited by detectives years after his son’s death that RWQ learned of the abuse allegedly carried out by Pell.
“When the police told him what had allegedly happened to his son, everything fell into place. The unexplained change in his demeanour, dropping out of school, turning to drugs, suddenly there was a reason for this destruction of his son’s life,” Lisa said.
Learning of a secret from decades past – not to mention the stature of the man allegedly responsible – took a massive toll on RWQ. His psychological injury formed the basis of his nervous shock claim against Pell and the Melbourne Archdiocese.
The case is ongoing but has already provided a mammoth step forward for other families of abuse survivors. The court ruled against an application by the church to extricate itself from the proceedings - a decision that could potentially open the door for other families to seek justice for the pain caused by the abuse perpetrated against their loved ones.
“Child sexual abuse has a profound impact not just on the survivor who’s affected directly, but also those closest to them. It’s so important that these people are recognised and able to pursue claims of their own.”
- Lisa Flynn
The decision has been appealed by the church.
Pell died in January 2023 having never taken the stand to directly answer the allegations levelled against him.
RWQ’s fight for justice for his son will continue.