April 8 (UPI) -- The chief accuser against Australian Cardinal George Pell said Wednesday he's accepted a High Court decision overturning the cleric's high-profile 2018 child sex abuse conviction.
Identified only as "Witness J," the man said in a statement he understood the ruling but also hoped it will not "discourage" abuse survivors to come forward.
"I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome," he said. "I understand their view that there was not enough evidence to satisfy the court beyond all reasonable doubt that the offending occurred."I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police."
Pell's conviction stemmed from accusations that he abused two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s while Archbishop of Melbourne. Witness J testified at trial. The other accuser died of a heroin overdose in 2014.
The High Court said in its summary decision that it unanimously decided to grant Pell's appeal after finding his convicting jury failed to maintain doubt over his guilt.The father of the other accuser will continue a civil lawsuit, his attorney said.
"We will continue to pursue a civil claim on behalf of our client despite the high court's ruling," attorney Lisa Flynn said. "He has suffered immensely and maintains George Pell was responsible for his son's sudden downward spiral after he abused his son as a young choirboy."
The suit is one of several civil actions pending against Pell, who was accused last year of molesting another boy in the 1970s. Another suit accuses him of failing to prevent the abuse of children at the hands of other priests.
Rev. Anthony Fisher, the Archbishop of Syndey, said he welcomes Pell's "exoneration" and asked that further litigation stop.