Tags: cardinal george pell | damian digman | accuser | sex assault | dies

George Pell: Damian Dignan, Cardinal's Accuser, Dies Before 'Historic' Sex Assault Hearing

George Pell:  Damian Dignan, Cardinal's Accuser, Dies Before 'Historic' Sex Assault Hearing

Australian Cardinal George Pell at the Holy See Press Office in Vatican back in June. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 January 2018 12:11 PM

Cardinal George Pell’s accuser in a “historic sexual assault” case -- meaning it happened in the past -- died from leukemia on Saturday, just weeks before the former Melbourne bishop was to face a committal hearing, The Daily Mail reported.

Damian Dignan’s death in Ballarat was confirmed by his former partner, Sharon Rixon, The Guardian reported.

Dignan and two former schoolmates at St Alipius primary school made allegations against Pell of historical sexual offenses in March 2016, The Daily Mail said.

Australia’s most senior Catholic cardinal, who was arrested in June last year and charged with historical offences from "multiple complainants,” has vigorously denied the claims, BBC News reported.

Prosecutors fear Dignan’s death could complicate the case.

“The death of a witness is generally very serious and can affect whether the case proceeds or not,” said former Melbourne magistrate, Nicholas Papas, per The Guardian.

“It’s not that it’s unusual for witnesses to be dead, but in a case where an allegation involved historic sexual assault and there may be no other direct witnesses to that abuse, it can seriously affect the case.”

Dignan's lawyer, Ingrid Irwin criticized the legal system for taking so long to prosecute Pell, stating that it was “totally ridiculous that he's now passed away without any justice, the legal system is completely inept and archaic,” The Guardian reported.

"Why did he have to die before he could see some semblance of justice – why is that?" she added, per The Age.

Rixon had her own message.

“It's hard to say goodbye, but your pain free now and that's the best thing we could hope for,” she wrote on Facebook. “Goodbye Angel, my best friend, my lone wolf. R.I.P, forever and always.”

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Cardinal George Pell’s accuser in a “historic sexual assault” case -- meaning it happened in the past -- died from leukemia on Saturday, just weeks before the former Melbourne bishop was to face a committal hearing.
cardinal george pell, damian digman, accuser, sex assault, dies
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2018-11-08
Monday, 08 January 2018 12:11 PM
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