The tri­als of Pell

The Saturday Paper - - Letters & Editorial -

In her thor­ough, thought­ful way, Mag­is­trate Belinda Walling­ton moved through the charges and struck out those about which she wasn’t sat­is­fied. In the end, about half re­mained.

Ge­orge Pell will face trial over al­leged sex­ual of­fences said to have been com­mit­ted at a swim­ming pool in Bal­larat in the 1970s and at St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral in Mel­bourne in the 1990s. Pell has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

As di­rec­tions were given, Pell’s bar­ris­ter said the most “vile” of the charges had been dis­missed. The mag­is­trate found that one wit­ness was un­re­li­able and that other charges were un­likely based on the time line given. “The ev­i­dence as a whole is not a suf­fi­cient weight for a jury to con­vict.”

Among the charges dis­missed were that Pell as­saulted a boy in a Bal­larat movie the­atre dur­ing a screen­ing of Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind. A com­plaint from the same wit­ness, that Pell con­tinue to as­sault him in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions through­out Bal­larat over the course of a year, was also dis­missed.

De­tails of the sur­viv­ing charges are scant. Ex­tra­or­di­nary sup­pres­sion or­ders gov­ern the process. It is likely Pell will face two sep­a­rate tri­als. His pass­port has been for­feited. He re­mains on bail.

Pell is the most se­nior Catholic in the world to face court over al­le­ga­tions of child sex­ual abuse. The som­bre process through which he now passes will de­cide the out­come of those al­le­ga­tions. The author­ity of the church rests un­easily on it.

The state­ment from the Vat­i­can was terse, per­func­tory: “The Holy See has taken note of the de­ci­sion is­sued by ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties in Aus­tralia re­gard­ing His Em­i­nence Car­di­nal Ge­orge Pell. Last year, the Holy Fa­ther granted Car­di­nal Pell a leave of ab­sence so he could de­fend him­self from the ac­cu­sa­tions. The leave of ab­sence is still in place.”

Pell re­leased a state­ment through his lawyers, Gal­bally & O’Bryan: “Car­di­nal Ge­orge Pell has at all times fully co-op­er­ated with Vic­to­ria Po­lice and al­ways and stead­fastly main­tained his in­no­cence. He has vol­un­tar­ily re­turned to Aus­tralia to meet those ac­cu­sa­tions.

“He will de­fend the re­main­ing charges.

“He would like to thank all of those who have sup­ported him from both here in Aus­tralia and over­seas dur­ing this ex­act­ing time and is grate­ful for their con­tin­ued sup­port and prayers.”

Out­side the court, pro­test­ers stood with their wishes and plac­ards: “Ev­ery child de­serves a safe and

• happy child­hood.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.