Australian Cardinal Geoge Pell

 Australian Cardinal George Pell will get a fair trial, and if he’s guilty he’ll go to prison.

Nine News

George Pell braces for first court appearance amid accusations of Salem witch hunt and slaughter of lambs

 

Jul 17, 2017
 

George Pell braces for first court appearance amid accusations of Salem witch hunt and slaughter of lambs

Cardinal Pell will face the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26.

“People who have accused Cardinal George Pell of molesting them could be “lambs to the slaughter” when legal proceedings begin, a Victorian lawyer representing sex abuse survivors fears.

Australia’s most senior cleric will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court next week on multiple historical sex charges, which one of Pell’s close friends has likened to a Salem witch hunt.

International media will join Australian survivors of sexual abuse and a large national press pack to observe the latest chapter in the Catholic church’s long-running sexual abuse saga.

Media interest has been intense since Victorian Police announced in late June that Pell had been charged, forcing the return to Australia of the 76-year-old who was the Pope’s finance chief.

An American author who has been Pell’s friend for over 50 years recently declared the Catholic cleric was the victim of a “fantastic campaign of false allegations” in a blistering column.

George Weigel, a biographer of Pope John Paul II, loosely accused Australian media and Victorian police of collusion against Pell in The National Review, an American conservative magazine.

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Weigel wrote that Pell had “been caught up in an atmosphere of hysteria and persecution that inevitably invites comparison to Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century”.

 Cardinal George Pell takes a break in Asia before coming to Australia to face historical sex charges

2013 photo shows Cardinals George Pell (L), Oswald Gracias, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and Reinhard Marx before their meeting with Pope Francis.

2013 photo shows Cardinals George Pell (L), Oswald Gracias, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and Reinhard Marx before their meeting with Pope Francis.

“George Pell has many enemies in Australia, political and ecclesiastical,” Weigel continued.

“They and their allies in the Aussie electronic and print media have indulged in a campaign of vilification against him for decades, charging him with everything from vanity to bullying. It’s all rubbish.”

Ingrid Irwin, a Ballarat lawyer who represents people accusing Cardinal Pell of abuse, told Nine.com.au she feared the crown faced a huge challenge to succeed.

Irwin said in an effort to “get the big allegation proved” crown prosecutors and police could cut deals and “water down” the number of charges, all without complainants ever being consulted.

She said these backroom legal machinations often make sexual abuse complainants feel like “lambs to the slaughter”.

“Sex abuse is difficult to prosecute. Historical sex abuse is even more difficult to prosecute,” Irwin said.

 

In 2014, Cardinal Pell was chosen by the Pope to get the Vatican's finances in order and he moved to Rome. (AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO)

iJustice Peter McClellan during the opening remarks at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse Public hearing into the Criminal Justice Issues in SydneyJ

ustice Peter McClellan during the opening remarks at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse Public hearing into the Criminal Justice Issues in Sydney

Suggestions the Royal Commission’s work had a “transformative effect on the mind of the general community” and difficulties for accused to secure acquittals was simply not backed by the data, Justice McClellan said.

Last week Nine.com.au profiled Robert Richter, QC, a defence lawyer widely regarded as one of the very best practitioners in Australia who will defend Cardinal Pell.

Pell has been forced to pay Richter’s sizeable fees from his own pocket, after the Vatican confirmed it would not cover his legal costs.

Irwin predicted a long, drawn out trial. She said it was common in sexual abuse trials with multiple charges for defence lawyers to fight for separate trials for each complainant.”