I'm from Ballarat. My parents grew up there, and were in the generation who were school aged when Pell was running the shop in the diocese. The stories they have to tell are absolutely astounding. Everyone their age knew what was going on, but they would receive an absolute bollocking from their parents/teachers/police/anyone older than them for daring to suggest that such respected members of the community would do such things.
So they did what they could to support and protect each other. Things such as senior students at a boarding school keeping an overnight watch on the younger students when particular priests were on duty. But kids can only do so much, y'know. And when the kids became adults with incredibly damaged views of their self-worth, morals and sexualities...well things became messy.
Alcohol as a coping device was pretty popular, as was abusing their own kids (my generation. Didn't happen to me fortunately, but I know a number who were). Quite a few kids my age lost their parents to suicide in the 90s because they still couldn't/wouldn't talk about it.
And it was still going on in the 90s. I was at a non-catholic school and use to tease those who were at the catholic schools about what supposedly went on (which I feel fking awful about these days because of the likelihood that it was heard by someone who was getting abused at the time).
When a priest retired or moved or whatever, there was often an article in the paper or a morning tea at the church or something to say goodbye. Didn't happen for all of them. Some would just abruptly be gone. Very little doubt as to why.
If due process is allowed to happen, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind Pell will go down (and hopefully all the others that aren't dead yet follow soon after). But the unfortunate reality is that his legal team will pull every fkn trick in the book (the old Skase medical report, "unfair trial"...all the cards that get played when there is no actual defense) to make sure that this doesn't happen.