The Borrowed Testimony that Convicted George Pell


“Billy” was a 10-year-old student at St. Jerome School in 1998, and an altar boy just like his older brother before him. A sweet, gentle kid with boyish good looks, Billy was outgoing and well-liked. One morning, after serving Mass, Rev. Charles Engelhardt caught Billy in the church sacristy sipping leftover wine. Rather than get mad, however, the priest poured Billy more wine. According to the grand jury, he also showed him some pornographic magazines, asking the boy how the pictures made him feel and whether he preferred the images of naked men or women. He told Billy it was time to become a man and that they would soon begin their “sessions.” A week later, Billy learned what Engelhardt meant. After Mass, the priest allegedly fondled the boy, sucked his penis and ordered Billy to kneel and fellate him – calling him “son” while instructing him to move his head faster or slower – until Engelhardt ejaculated. The priest later suggested another “session,” but Billy refused and Engelhardt let him be.
— Sabrina Rubin Erdely, “The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files”,
                                                                                   Rolling Stone, 15 September 2011

What is the difference between this account of child sex abuse in a Catholic church in Philadelphia and the evidence given by the sole accuser in the Victorian court case that convicted Cardinal George Pell of sexually abusing a thirteen-year-old choir boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in 1996? Not much.

The American case allegedly occurred in 1998 and the perpetrator was a Catholic priest, not an archbishop. There were two boys in the Melbourne sacristy after Mass, not one, as in Philadelphia. However, the rest of the accusation that condemned Pell bears uncanny similarities to that given by “Billy Doe” and reproduced by a journalist in the American magazine, Rolling Stone. The Reverend Charles Engelhardt (at right), also prosecuted, was convicted and sent to prison, where he died.

No transcript of the evidence given by Pell’s anonymous accuser has been released and the evidence itself was given in camera but part of the address to the jury by the Victorian Crown Prosecutor is reproduced by ABC journalist Louise Milligan in her book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (2017, revised edn. 2019). It contains the details of the sexual abuse the alleged victim – who Milligan calls “The Kid” in the excerpt from her book below – described to the court.

In December 1996, as the choir from a Sunday Solemn Mass presided over by Archbishop Pell was leaving the cathedral, two choir boys left the procession and headed for the sacristy “in search of some hijinks”. They found some communion wine there and started swigging it. Milligan continues:

But not much time passed before they were sprung in the act. The Kid would tell the police that it was the Archbishop, who asked them what they were doing and indicated that they were in trouble. He said Pell then approached them. He took out his penis … “He pulled [The Choirboy, i.e. the other boy] aside and had him crouch in front of him. Cardinal Pell was standing,” Crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson would later explain … “So according to [The Kid] Cardinal Pell had his hand on the back of [The Choirboy’s] head and his other hand at his own genital area. [The Kid] saw [The Choirboy’s] head being lowered towards the genital area of Cardinal Pell. This all occurred over no more than a minute or two. Cardinal Pell then moved on to [The Kid] …  Cardinal Pell was standing and he pushed [The Kid’s] head down to a position where [The Kid] was crouching or kneeling. [The Kid] was then pushed onto Cardinal Pell’s erect penis so that Cardinal Pell was in [The Kid’s] mouth. This act of fellatio or oral sex lasted for a short period which [The Kid] estimates to be a couple of minutes. You will hear that Cardinal Pell then stopped and told [The Kid] to remove his pants. [The Kid] stood upright. [The Kid] pulled down or dropped his pants and his underwear in accordance with the instruction. … Cardinal Pell then started touching [The Kid’s] genitalia … While touching [The Kid’s] genitalia, it’s alleged that the Cardinal was touching his own genitalia.” After a couple of minutes, the Archbishop stood up. The boys went back to their robing room.

The Philadelphia case was written up in Rolling Stone in September 2011, well before Victoria’s police began what they called their “trawling operation” against George Pell, hoping to find someone to testify against him.  As Detective Inspector Paul Sheridan of Victoria Police told Pell’s committal hearing, they began their activity in 2013 to see whether he had committed serious crimes that had gone unreported, but the complainant only came forward in June 2015. In other words, the Rolling Stone story had been in circulation for two years before an Australian version was provided to the police.

So, what is the probability that the evidence given in Australia was not an authentic account of what happened in Melbourne but, rather, a copy of a story that had already been aired in print and online? Here are the similarities between the American and the Australian allegations:

# Both cases of sexual abuse occurred in the sacristy after Sunday Mass.

# In both cases, the victims had been drinking wine they found in the sacristy.

# Both boys assisted in the celebration of the Mass.

# The priest fondled both boys’ genitals.

# Both boys were made to kneel before the priest.

# Both boys were made to perform fellatio on the priest.

# Both the alleged victims were the only witnesses who testified for the prosecution in court; it was their word against that of the priests.

The only difference between the American and Australian evidence was the account of a second alleged meeting, which the boys said took place “a few months later” in Philadelphia and “a month or so later” in Melbourne. In the American version, it was a different priest involved this time, who led the same boy to the sacristy, told him to undress and then fellated him. In the Australian version, Pell allegedly found the boy in the back corridor of the cathedral, forced him up against a wall and fondled his genitals.

Nonetheless, the two accounts are so close to being identical that the likelihood of the Australian version being original is most implausible. There are far too many similarities in the stories for them to be explained by coincidence. The conclusion is unavoidable:

“The Kid” was repeating a story he had found in a magazine – or repeating a story someone else had found for him in the media – thereby deriving his account of what Pell did from evidence given in a trial in the United States four years earlier. In short, the testimony that convicted George Pell was a sham. This does not mean the accuser was deliberately making it up. He might have come to persuade himself the events actually happened, or some therapist might have helped him “recover” his memory. But no matter how sincere the accuser’s beliefs were, that does not make them true, especially when there is so much other evidence against them. 

There is little doubt that if members of the jury in Pell’s case had been informed of the surprising similarities between the two versions, some of them must have had serious questions about their witness’s veracity. The result would have been either a second hung jury or a not guilty verdict.

So why has none of this been made public in Australia before? Although I am a reasonably thorough browser of the Australian media, I had not heard the details of the American story until a Quadrant reader, Richard Mullins, alerted me to the Rolling Stone article. However, that article was not buried away in some forgotten archive. Rolling Stone is an American magazine devoted to popular culture, targeted at teenagers and young adults. It published an Australian edition from 1970 until its closure in January 2018. In the United States the allegations made by “Billy Doe” made national headlines in 2011. Under his real name of Daniel Gallagher (at left), he was identified as an accuser whose testimony sent two Catholic priests and a school teacher to prison, as well as Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secretary for clergy. The jailing of this senior Catholic administrator for protecting clerical offenders under his charge was seen by American newspapers as proof that corruption extended to the heights of the Catholic hierarchy. The police and district-attorney’s office who investigated and prosecuted the case emerged as heroes in the American mainstream news media.

However, in 2016, Newsweek devoted a 5000-word feature article by Ralph Cipriano to the scandal.

This was partly designed to expose the activist journalism of Rolling Stone author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, in the wake of her equally notorious story about a University of Virginia student who claimed in 2014 she was gang-raped by seven men at a college party. That ‘toxic masculinity’ story dominated press and television headlines for weeks, until the purported victim’s hoax was exposed. Rolling Stone was subsequently hit with defamation suits by several of the accused young men.

Cipriano of Newsweek was also keen to reveal the local politics behind the subsequent legal clashes over the proceedings of the church sexual abuse cases between the state of Pennsylvania’s higher judiciary and Philadelphia’s District Attorney. The trials of the clergy had remained front-page news in the state for three years because multiple appeals in the cases had overturned the original convictions, resulting in retrials, reversals of convictions, and ongoing disputes between courts and government.

Newsweek also said it had reliable information that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had paid Gallagher compensation of $5 million. By this time, Gallagher’s status as a reliable witness was dubious. The magazine found a wide range of inconsistencies between the evidence he gave to police and his eventual testimony in court. He was a drug dealer and petty thief well-known to police and had been arrested six times on charges of this kind. Catholic defence lawyers argued the District Attorney had given Gallagher “red-carpet treatment” because he was one of the few alleged victims of sex abuse whose allegations fell within the local statute of limitations, which meant charges against the church could be filed.

In other words, it is very unlikely that the story of “Billy Doe” was unknown to those in Australia involved in the prosecution of George Pell. The police in Victoria who were pursuing Pell, and whose minds were no doubt finely tuned to anything that would support his prosecution, must have been aware of the success their counterparts in Philadelphia had enjoyed from both the support of District-Attorney Seth Williams (at right), later sentenced to five years in prison on unrelated bribery charges, and their extensive media coverage. The American example told the Victorians they were on a winning track.

What about the Australian media? They gave a lot of coverage to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but made little mention of the fact that the findings and interpretation of events in Australia were following a well worn track of investigations overseas, as I showed in my column in the April edition of Quadrant.

The current heroine of the news media pursuing this story is Louise Milligan, who has a best-seller with her book Cardinal, and her own special reports on ABC television’s 7.30 and Four Corners programs. The latest edition of her book lists the number of awards this work has won her: the Walkley Book Award, two Quill awards from the Melbourne Press Club, the Sir Owen Dixon Chambers Law Reporter of the Year award, the Civic Choice award in the Melbourne Prize for Literature. The new edition also carries accolades from an impressive array of left-wing journalists and authors: Annabel Crabb, David Marr, David Armstrong, Peter Fitzsimons, Kate McClymont, Quentin Dempster, Michaela Bond, Derryn Hinch, Yvonne Rance, Gerard Windsor and Anton Rose, plus a foreword by novelist/historian Tom Keneally who says Pell got what he deserved because he was “a notable neo-conservative”, who “had questioned climate change” and “has raised only muted opposition to the  federal government’s heinous asylum seeker policy”.

Did Milligan know about the similarities between the evidence of “Billy” and “The Kid”? There is nothing in her book, or anything else she has written that I know of, to indicate that she did. She seems to be completely in the dark about the American connection. So, as far as I can see, she cannot be accused of suppressing information to make her own case more plausible.

However, a real investigative journalist would not have left out of reckoning the overseas dimension to this story. So the most that Milligan can be accused of in her single-minded pursuit of her quarry, is incompetence in not investigating the full dimensions of the story over the many months she worked on it. This must eventually be a source of embarrassment for those who have showered her with prizes, and for all those on the list of writers who adulate her journalistic skills in the early pages of her book.

The Victorian police, however, are in a different position. They had every reason both to know about the American connection and to keep it quiet, lest it ruin their case. Catholic lawyer Frank Brennan and Pell himself in the early stages of this drama both suggested that the police were leaking information to the news media. The philosopher and theologian, Chris S. Friel, in an impressive, forensic examination of the case on the UK site Academia, has suggested the police engaged in a long-term strategy to slowly undermine Pell’s public reputation and to entwine it with the publicity attracted by the Royal Commission. Friel is judicious in what the available evidence showed at the time he wrote:

It will be countered that the very idea that the Victorian police deliberately created a distraction is just a conspiracy theory. It’s true that it is merely a hypothesis, one based on circumstantial evidence, and I would not argue that it is proven beyond reasonable doubt. But it does fit the facts, and so provide a reason to doubt whether the complainant is telling the truth beyond reasonable doubt … As to the issue of “conspiracy,” we recall that Milligan herself hints at one: for, according to The Kid, Pell is not the only menace; some unnamed and dangerous man is searching for the informant, and that is why he pleads with the journalist that she should continue her investigation.

If Australia still has any genuine investigative journalists, there must be one somewhere willing to follow these leads into the bowels of the Victorian police operations to find out what was really going on all this time. Meanwhile, George Pell remains in prison until his appeal in June, unjustly convicted and unjustly defamed.

Keith Windschuttle is the editor of Quadrant.


44 thoughts on “The Borrowed Testimony that Convicted George Pell

  • en passant says:

    Curiously, I just thought at dinner tonight, “I wonder how Pell is coping with the injustice of his conviction – and prison life?” I wonder if he cries out “Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?”
    I have no doubt that his conviction will be thrown out on appeal as it was beyond my non-legal mind to understand how a conviction (12-0 apparently) could have been given on the word of one person against another. Your article provides a clear hypothesis: our Oz ‘Billy the Kid’ had a script, so he did not have to delve into the realms of unreliable memories of 30+ years ago, he had every detail laid out for him.
    I have no doubt that Pell’s conviction will be thrown out on appeal as it was beyond my non-legal mind to understand how a conviction (12-0 apparently) could have been given on the word of one person against another. Your article provides a clear hypothesis: our Oz ‘Billy the Kid’ had a script, so he did not have to delve into the realms of unreliable memories of 30+ years ago, he had every detail laid out for him.
    On a scale of probabilities, this atheist has always been certain that Pell is innocent.
    As a bonus, I will never buy another book by Keneally, but I might be interested in writing a review for Quadrant of his next one …

  • en passant says:

    My apologies. In correcting a typo I cut, pasted & repeated a whole paragraph. Oh Lord, why is their no edit function …?

  • Salome says:

    And there I was thinking that the whole altar wine thing was probably buried in a Dave Allen sketch on the cutting floor somewhere! The ‘official’ version of the story is summarised in the sentencing remarks, here: http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCC/2019/260.html and prefaced by comments in paragraphs 16 and 17 which I find quite extraordinary.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    At the risk of nauseating some readers, let me note that the account of Pell’s alleged actions claims that he allowed the oral sex performed by the first victim to continue for a couple of minutes but it does not say whether or not he ejaculated. My question is, if he had not ejaculated after a couple of minutes why did he desist? Surely this would be an act of the most counter-intuitive self-restraint – completely at odds with the whole tenor of the allegation? And if he did ejaculate, what are the odds he would continue his abuse in this most exposed and risky scenario? Further gratification? I doubt he would risk it.
    This latest revelation, thanks to Keith and Richard Mullins, adds considerable weight to the inherent improbability of the allegations as detailed in Court.

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    fellatio is a sexual act that requires a lot of trust. It would have to be gross stupidity to entrust your life to a 13-year-old boy who may bite. I am surprised that any jury member could have accepted that as plausible.

  • Geoffrey Luck says:

    About time the elements of this farcical situation – police corruption, fake trial evidence and media hysteria – was shown up for what they are. If you are not convinced that the judge was eagerly complicit in the whole affair, just read paragraphs 71-73 of his judgement from the link given above by Salome. It shows the judge was willing to hypothesise without evidence about what Cardinal Pell might have been thinking when he committed these offences. Outrageous!

  • Max Rawnsley says:

    We have heard of the curious nature of evidence in this matter. My instinct is to be careful of conspiracy stories, especially when the underlying beneficiaries motivation is apparent. But I make an exception in this instance, in the face of contra indicators.
    George Pell’s crime is he is a conservative and victim to social media and a media vendetta run relentlessly for many years. Add his friendship with Tony Abbott and the web starts to become apparent. The vindictive way in which the Age in particular but the ABC etc pursue Abbott as emblematic of the evil conservatives. Yes I do think there is much room for Pell’s conviction to be considered unsafe.

    A test for the appeal will be how the court regards, if asked, long term attempts to persecute Pell. Will social media’s influence on jurors be recognised? Much of this moves outside an appeal and reflects a contemporary perspective well apart from the conventional appeal grounds.

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    The evidence against Pell read like a learned narrative play.
    As a result I googled Amazon to see if the story line came up, to no avail.
    It appears others have been more successful.
    We await the decision of the court.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    While I remain, like Geoffrey, utterly disgusted by this entire episode, I’m not convinced that paragraphs 71-73 of the judgment need be interpreted as Geoffrey has done. I think the judge was at considerable pains to emphasise that he was bound by the jury’s findings of fact that Pell committed the offences as charged. As such, he could not question those findings but, I think, used his judgment to highlight their absurdity, ie he emphasised that Pell could not have committed the offences unless, in his all-consuming arrogance, he had ignored all the risks of discovery of which he must have been all too consciously aware.

    As nobody has ever accused Pell of stupidity, I think the judge was setting the framework for an appeal.

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Another parallel is the use of the terms ‘Billy’, in the original narrative and ‘The Kid’ in the Louise Milligan version.
    Why, here we have Billy,The Kid famed outlaw, who was made famous by his deeds.
    He defied convention.
    It must be coincidence that the two narratives strung Billy and The Kidd together.

  • Ilajd says:

    Surprised the defence did not raise this, or did they??

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Lewis, very perceptive observation. “The Kid’ seems rather dehumanising for a victim, surely something that the Milligans of this world would go out of their way to avoid. Why not a normal first name?

  • Salome says:

    Billy the Kid?

  • Salome says:

    Oops–sorry, that point’s been made.

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    Maybe this point is been made but I think this is much wider issue. What if the powers that be decided that is self-evident that any one of us has been perpetrating a crime. Then they set out to collect evidence for the chosen crime. They do this by paying money for that evidence. It seems all they need is a single person without corroboration to accuse. The testimony does not have to be corroborated but must convince a jury. Anything that is considered a crime where only two people need be involved can be used. Sexual acts are ideal. This is the road to hell for all of us and a total breakdown of a legal system which has been built up over a long period of time.

  • norsaint says:

    A couple of years ago, I heard a weird interview on ABC radio with someone I instantly recognized as “fried”. This is prison parlance for people who’ve taken so many drugs over the duration they’re no longer capable of logical thoughts and reasoning and are habitual liars. My curiosity as to why such a one was getting a run on radio was satisfied when he was described as Pell’s accuser. It instantly showed me what a disgusting farce this persecution of Pell was. He should never have been committed to trial on the basis of one uncorroborated allegation but of course was always going to be, the modus operandi of the law always to provide business for itself and if any collateral damage occurs along the way, so be it. As to the Pell’s Appeal, Blind Freddy can see it must be upheld but given the egregious Bob Hull’s appointments of Leftard “judges” and magistrates a few years ago, I wouldn’t be too sure. The sooner the Victoria Police is disbanded and shamed, the better. A notorious rogue organization, or to put it simply, corrupt.

  • Jody says:

    Pell is incarcerated. When he is acquitted on appeal we can talk then. Until that time he’s just another pedophile.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    “Pell is incarcerated. When he is acquitted on appeal we can talk then. Until that time, he’s just another pedophile.’ So, Jody, if you think an injustice has been done, best to just shut up and hope the judiciary sees it your way? A judiciary that is increasingly activist.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Further response to Jody, Commenters on this site are effectively arguing that Pell is a political prisoner in that the Vic Police pursuit of him was politically motivated.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Jody, in my world – including this forum – unless I’m offending against the law of the land or house rules, I’m still free to discuss any aspect of the Pell case as, when or where I choose. Despite your irrational attempts at censorship, I intend to continue to do so.

  • Guido Negraszus says:

    “Pell is incarcerated. When he is acquitted on appeal we can talk then. Until that time he’s just another pedophile.”

    Jody, would you have said the same if someone close to you would be in prison right now (same conviction) and you are convinced that person to be innocent? I wonder…

  • Jody says:

    I’m not trying to shut anybody down, just trying to help you to avoid embarrassment. Unless you were there on the day those boys were abused you have no certain knowledge the Pell is innocent. And you weren’t there for the trial, so I don’t see how you could know whether he’s guilty or not. Seems like wishful thinking to me. How in the world would any of you KNOW if Pell was innocent? None of you is his brother, or close friend and confidant so I don’t know how you could know more.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    even the jury don’t KNOW if Pell was innocent or guilty. They made inferences based on the evidence presented to them. That is what we are doing here. What we are questioning is how the jury could find Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

  • Don says:

    Last week Quadrant had 17 articles on their main page and all related to Pell’s trial and how the jury got it so wrong.
    Pell had the best legal defence that money could buy yet 12 good citizens listened to all the grubby details & made their decision , rightly or wrongly is for an appeal to judge , not by a media blitz to sway public opinion.
    The inference derived from all these pro-Pell articles relegate the victim(s) as liars.
    Shame on you all !

  • Jody says:

    Don, unless further information comes to hand, I agree with you.

  • Salome says:

    Well, that settles it, then.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Jody, nice to see you’ve got some support. As to Don’s “shame on you” comment, I have to say that it is a novel, perhaps even post-modernist concept that “victims” must be, by definition, tellers of unquestionable truths. It is also a novel concept that the unanimous evidence of several people who were there at the time that the events as described in the “victim’s” unsupported allegations were impossible, especially within the six or so minutes available, should count for absolutely nothing in the face of the “victim’s” totally incredible narrative.

    If shame is warranted in this argument is belongs to those who seek to close down discussion of one of the most important trials in Australian legal history.

  • Don says:

    Doubting Thomas , your precis that “victims must be by definition, tellers of unquestionable truths” could also apply to the accused.
    As Jody and I seem to be the only dissenters in 18 Quadrant articles in 2 weeks , I would hardly categorise that as an attempt to shut down any discussion but that is the beauty of democracy isn’t it , everyone has an opinion & is free to voice it.
    The shame is that these 18 pro-Pell articles appear to me as an attempt to ‘soften the ground’ for an expected appeal.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Don, you seem to think we Q-O-L readers have a disproportionately powerful influence on the Victorian (in both senses) legal “system”. Were that the case, Pell would never have been charged let alone convicted.

    As to softening the ground for an appeal, why do you seem implicitly to believe that this would be a bad thing? Are you one of those who have expressed the view that for Pell to win his appeal would be the worst possible outcome? Or are you one of those doesn’t believe that he should have a right to appeal. If my interpretation of the judge’s written judgment is correct, the Judge himself has softened the ground for an appeal.

    It’s clear that you, at least, and perhaps even Jody, although she usually shows more sense, has fixated on the idea that the 18 articles on this issue are, in fact, all pro-Pell. Some might reasonably be described as pro-Pell to a greater or lesser extent, but they are all primarily intended as criticism of the blatantly corrupt behaviour of the Victoria Police and legal services in the relentless pursuit, without extant complaints, of Pell rather than in his defence per se. The judge himself signalled the inadequacy of the process, although powerless to do anything about the jury’s self-evidently perverse decision.

    If you, or Jody, wish to continue to engage in this discussion, would you please offer argument more credible than “respect the jury” (why?), believe the “victim” (why?), and disbelieve the several witnesses who gave evidence for the defence (why?).

    To say that we should be ashamed of ourselves for making these arguments, as you have, without a single substantive argument in rebuttal of the points raised, ie to refute our questions about the quality of the evidence against Pell, is pure ad hominem and futile bluster. Surely you can do better.

  • PT says:

    Don, this is not sub judicae. Pell’s trial is over! An appeal is lodged, but won’t be heard for some time yet.

    We are (as yet) still able to query the application of justice where we believe miscarriages have occurred. Or do you believe the campaigners for the Guildford Four should have been convicted of contempt of court?

    I’ll say this: IF the prosecution contention is that the offences took place between the time the procession was forming and the time it reached the west door of St Patrick’s, then it is not possible it happened as claimed. I had previously assumed it occurred after the service was over and the parishioners had gone home (but Pell would have disrobed by then). But for it to all happen during the procession itself? Not a chance!

    The only corroborating evidence is the “change” in the other “victim”, but this is pretty vague stuff. It could have been adolescent changes; bullying from other students; he may have even been molested by someone else. But after 22 years, what other evidence could exist other than testimony, and in this case, only one person!

    This is why the RC didn’t recommend charges against Gillard even though it found “credible” claims she was seen counting wads of cash. It is also, presumably, why a VERY senior politician has not been put on trial for raping a woman, also in the mid-’90’s. Hey, let’s put HIM on trial and see if a jury believes her, right? Which is where, I suspect, much of the angst against the pursuit of Pell comes from. The other figure is a lefty; Pell is a social conservative, and it smells as if that’s why he’s pursued and the other isn’t.

    Where I’m at a loss with you, and Jody is this. IF Pell is “just a pedophile” because of the conviction, and hence it should not be discussed, then if it’s overturned on appeal, he’s “innocent” and what then is there to discuss?

  • PT says:

    The reality is this:

    It is highly unusual for convictions to occur on the uncorroborated say so of a single accuser without a confession from the accused. But movements like “believe all women” seem to be pushing us down this road. Unless the accused is a lefty political leader apparently (Bill Clinton and our own “Senior Politician”).

    Where I agree is that some circumspection regarding Pell is in order. We don’t know for a fact he is innocent. But the crimes could not have occurred as claimed during the exit procession. I hope this is NOT what was presented to the jury, as it is a savage indictment of that jury if it were.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    PT, from a natural justice angle, I think the worst aspect of the management of this case was that the accused was never given the opportunity to confront and test the evidence of his accuser in front of the jury in the second trial. Instead, the jury only saw the transcript of the accused’s evidence in the first trial, evidence on which the first jury hung 10-2 in favour of acquittal. The switch to a unanimous decision to convict by the second jury – with no new evidence against Pell, but plenty of contrary evidence, seems perverse.

    The other aspect I found repulsive is that the accuser was not the innocent child victim allegedly assaulted by Pell some 20-odd years earlier. He was a mature adult who had made no official complaint for all those years until the corrupt Victoria Police successfully trawled him and encouraged him to complain. Yet, in the media, and the trials, he was treated as if he were still a vulnerable child likely to be further traumatised by having to be confronted by Pell.

    This is a sickening perversion of the accused’s statutory rights to due process for which we have utterly unprofessional media and legal “professionals” to blame.

    That’s where any shame is to be found.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    PT, I don’t think anyone on this site is claiming that Pell is innocent – merely that he might be and should not have been found guilty on the evidence available to the jury.

  • Don says:

    PT , having listened to the judge’s verdict for the full 80 minutes , I can’t recall the timing issue you have outlined but I do agree with most of your comment , especially with regard to Gillard & that very senior politician.
    Having read “Unholy Trinity” & all the grubby deals done by the Vic. Police & the Catholic Church where elements within the Victoria Police Force up to and including the Chief Commissioner at the time, Reg Jackson, conspired to prevent the criminal prosecution of Monsignor Day in Mildura in 1972.
    With that backdrop in mind , Pell did himself no favours by escorting Ridsdale into court and then being a referee for him.
    I never contended that Pell was guilty or innocent , merely saying that by the sheer volume of articles with the same ‘slant’ by the editor & other professionals , I believe there is a concerted effort by these esteemed contributors to disparage the decision of 12 jurors & by extension the victim.
    Should Pell’s conviction be overturned then justice will be done but that is for the courts to decide & then you can all do some backslapping.

  • Jody says:

    Yes, Pell as referee for Gerard Risdale and yet doing nothing to help those who went to him for help after being victims of sexual abuse. And his answer to the Victoria Police when questioned about his MO in sexual abuse; “Oh, stop it”. This wasn’t some queer tease but a convened interview where Pell demonstrably showed neither compassion for the alleged victims nor any sense of shock that he’d been accused. “Oh, stop it”.

  • Jody says:

    And if you’re all concerned about justice what about taking up the cause du jour – Julian Assange.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    In what way has Assange been treated unjustly, Jody? How is there any relevant point of comparison between his case and Pell’s.

    Were you not aware that Pell was the first Bishop in Australia to set up a system to ensure that victims of abuse by Catholic clergy were actually given effective help to pursue their claims?
    As to his emotional reaction to police questioning him, what sort of response would you have expected if:
    a. he were actually innocent and hearing the details of the accusations for the first time, or
    b. he were guilty of those detailed grossly indecent acts and, as such, would have been forewarned as to the sort of questions to expect.
    I suggest his reaction was exactly what mine would have been were I innocent and similarly questioned.
    The “oh, stop it response” was all the evidence of the allegedly missing shock of being accused that any reasonably disinterested person would need.
    Finally, it’s amazing how often people quack on about compassion or lack thereof. I have another female (Catholic) acquaintance who makes precisely the same criticism of Pell as yours. Yet to me, florid displays of soppy emotionalism, which many seem to need as evidence of “compassion” or “empathy” are quite the reverse – just another hollow display of narcissistic virtue signalling.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    I’m done. We’re repeating ourselves.

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    It is self-evident that Don is guilty of the vilest of sexual offences. We only need now to examine his life and find someone that will accuse him. We can offer money and other incentives for these people to come forward. We only need one and we do not need any corroboration. This is a precedent which means we can target anyone there is no safety for anyone.

  • deric davidson says:

    With no forensic and/or corroborative evidence to back the accusation there should never have been a trial let alone a ‘guilty’ verdict (second time around in fact). The whole things stinks of a frame up. For those who think there is ‘evidence’ to which we have not been privy please let us all know what that evidence is and why it has been hidden from the public? My guess – no such evidence exists.
    By the way juries do get things things wrong and not as infrequently as one might think. With Pell’s negative profile concocted by the media he was on a hiding to nothing in any jury based trial.

  • Don says:

    Mike O’Cerin , would you like to put your contact details up ?
    Obviously , you are a dedicated , evangelical keyboard warrior to attack the man instead of the message

  • Peter Sandery says:

    Perhaps Victorian Police Informer 3838 could spread some light on this matter?

  • Gerard says:

    It looks like my original comment was deleted. So here it is again:

    “The Kid” was repeating a story he had found in a magazine – or repeating a story someone else had found for him in the media – thereby deriving his account of what Pell did from evidence given in a trial in the United States four years earlier. In short, the testimony that convicted George Pell was a sham.”

    Seriously Keith I love your writing for its detail and acumen, but this statement above has neither.

    This article is frankly atrocious. Taking a piece from Rolling Stone Magazine and then crossing a veritable Rubicon to to make a claim that the actual piece was used as a proforma for the case made by Police is beyond nonsensical. Altar boys scoffing wine after Mass happens all the time and happened all the time when I was one. It is not a unique situation by any measure. So the report in Rolling Stone has no special significance. That the RS piece looks a bit like the story in the Pell case is entirely predictable.

    Pell’s guilt is either a fact or a fabrication. But this article does not advance our understanding of the truth.

    The Editor needs an Editor.

  • Les Kovari says:

    The caricature depicting a choir boy kneeling before a catholic priest is as old as the day. It is the product of the sick mentality of many hateful and sinister people in society. Very often it is passed as a joke.
    No doubt there may have been some instances where frustrated members of the catholic church had resorted to pleasuring themselves that way. However, I very much doubt that a man of the caliber of Dr Pell would allow himself to such humiliating experience, no matter how desperate he may be.
    It does not take much imagination to fabricate a story based on popular anecdote. The police had to troll to find somebody to testify against Dr Pell., I hope it did not put too much strain on their already limited resources. I would have thought, given that the accusations had any basis at all, any victims of abuse would have beaten down the doors of police stations fighting to be believed. I am a protestant not a catholic, I have never met Dr Pell but I find it absolutely brutal and criminal that he could even be considered to be guilty. The whole sham is the work of the scums of our society.

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