Sunday, August 25, 2019

Julia Yost: Catholic-haters have just convicted an innocent man

By a 2-to-1 vote, an Australian appellate court this week dismissed George Cardinal Pell’s appeal of his conviction on five counts of “historic” child sexual abuse. For Pell’s supporters, the decision can hardly be surprising. Given the way things had gone, a just outcome would have come as a shock.

Prosecutors accused Pell of surprising two choirboys who were guzzling communion wine in the sacristy of the Melbourne cathedral immediately after Mass one Sunday in 1996. The cardinal was charged with forcing the boys to fellate him while he was still vested in archbishop’s robes.

The allegations were utterly implausible — for several reasons well-established by the defense at trial.

The cathedral’s communion wine was kept locked in a safe, for starters, and Pell couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without his absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened. Likewise, the choirboys couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without their absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened, either.

Plus, the sacristy would have been bustling with activity. As witnesses testified, Pell was never alone in the cathedral while vested for Mass but always accompanied by at least one assistant. The security arrangements and layout of the cathedral, and the respective locations of the cardinal and the choir, would have made it impossible for the abuse to occur as alleged. Nor is it physically possible to expose one’s genitals while vested in an archbishop’s robes.

Before he died in 2014, one of the two boys denied that he had “ever been interfered with or touched up” — by anyone. All this led 10 out of 12 jurors at Pell’s first trial to vote to acquit. Yet at the retrial, the jurors ignored the enormous weight of exculpatory evidence and voted in December to convict him amid a climate of media-driven anti-Catholic hysteria.

As the dissenting appellate judge was to conclude, the sole accuser’s wholly uncorroborated testimony “contained discrepancies, displayed inadequacies and otherwise lacked probative value.” Oh, well.

Read the rest here.

As I stated in my earlier post on this subject, I'm not sufficiently familiar with all of the evidence to express an informed opinion. But an awful lot of people whose judgement I respect have come down hard on this case.

1 comment:

BorisJojicj said...

I'm no huge fan of Rome, but it's quite possible the Cardinal is being framed.He's a conservative who opposes same-sex marriage. Why am I not surprised that he is a target?