Case Study 8: Towards Healing (John Ellis)

Mr John Ellis was sexually abused in the 1970s from the age of 13 by Father Aidan Duggan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

This case study closely examined the response of the Sydney Archdiocese to the complaint made by Mr Ellis under Towards Healing  and to the subsequent civil claim which he brought in relation to the abuse he had suffered.

Church witnesses from the Archdiocese, and others involved in the Church’s dealings with Mr Ellis including the Professional Standards Office and legal advisors, gave evidence.

The Royal Commission considered their respective roles in the management of the Towards Healing  process, the reparation negotiations, management of the litigation and defences taken during the proceedings and communications, both internally and with Mr Ellis.

Cardinal George Pell was questioned about the circumstances of the Ellis case and personally apologised to Mr Ellis saying the Archdiocese had failed in its moral and pastoral responsibilities to him.

At this hearing the Cardinal agreed with the Council’s stated policy that in civil claims Church authorities should provide a legal entity that is capable of responding to proceedings.

When asked by Commissioner McClellan if the Archdiocese should go back and look at past payments under Towards Healing Cardinal Pell agreed.

Witness List and Order

Opening Statements and witness statements


Hearing room updates

Royal Commission report of Case Study No. 8 – Mr John Ellis’s experience of the Towards Healing process and civil litigation

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The Council concluded its work on 30 April 2018 and is no longer distributing any material about its work.