26. Feb, 2019

Only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the priests sacristy immediately after SundaySolemn Mass

The Evidence (?) Against Cardinal Pell


The former choirboy told the trial that Pell caught him and a friend swigging altar wine in the priest's sacristy, which is a room used by the priests to change into their robes.

It was off-limits to the choirboys, who had slipped away from the choir procession at the end of mass.

The former choirboy gave evidence Pell had planted himself in the doorway and said something like "what are you doing here?" or "you're in trouble".

"There was this moment where we all just froze and then he undid his trousers or his belt, like he started moving underneath his robes," the victim said.

Pell then pulled one of the boys aside and pushed his head down to his exposed penis

Pell then forced the other choirboy to perform oral sex on him before fondling him as he masturbated.

That former choirboy told the court that, two months later, Pell molested him in a brief incident in a corridor at the back of the cathedral after mass.

Details of the trial can only now be made public after a suppression order, which prohibited any reporting of the case, was lifted by the Victorian County Court.

It had been put in place to avoid potentially influencing jurors in another trial on separate sexual offence charges involving two boys in the Victorian regional city of Ballarat in the 1970s.

Prosecutors have decided not to go ahead with that trial.

What has Pell said?

Pell has always denied the allegations but he did not give evidence during the trial, nor make any public comment.

His lawyer, Paul Galbally, released a statement after the suppression order lifted to confirm an appeal had been lodged.

"Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so," the statement said. 

"Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued.

"He will not be commenting in the meantime."

Even though the cardinal did not give evidence in court, a video recording of his 2016 police interview was played to the jury.

In it, Pell described the allegations as "deranged falsehood" and "vile and disgusting conduct contrary to everything I hold dear".

"You could scarcely imagine a place [where someone] was more unlikely to be committing paedophilia crimes than the sacristy of the cathedral after mass," he told the detectives.

"The allegations are products of fantasy."

At trial, Mr Richter accused Pell's victim of embellishing his fantasy to the point of, perhaps, believing it. 

"Only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the priest's sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass," Mr Richter told the jury.

He referred to the evidence of clergy, altar servers and church officials who agreed the sacristy was a "hive of activity" after mass, as valuables were put away and men changed out of their robes.

Mr Richter also claimed the boys could not have slipped away from the choir unnoticed, and pointed to the evidence of a dozen former choristers who told the jury they had never seen two boys slipping away from the procession.

"The evidence of [the complainant] is not supported by a single witness," he told the court.