George Pell - released on High Court appeal

You sincerely believe Juries having been bribed/threatened or coerced - You just highlighted another weakness of the jury system ?

I was on a jury in Sydney about 20 years ago. It was a drugs trial with three defendants and lasted 6 weeks.

The Police evidence was poorly presented and looked very suspect and contrived and the Police who had spent years at getting this conviction, who sat in Court every day knew it.

One morning outside the Jurors entrance to the Court, three very large, menacing looking Cops loitered as I was entering. They severely eye-balled me and their intent was clear. I was second person into the Jury Room, and we discussed it and had the same views. As the other Jurors arrived in varying degrees of distress, we discussed it and the Foreman agreed we should tell the Judge. So this was organised, and twelve Jurors sat alone before the Judge advising of our experience. We were dismissed to the Jury Room.

When we were summoned to Court, there was complete silence as we trooped in, and all Police and Prosecutors present were a very pale shade of white and looked very scared. It was related to us later by the Clerk, that the Judge had individually questioned each of them, and threatened immediate jail for contempt. We were not threatened again.

The Jury system works yaco55.


Not always

Someone needling you?

Or, it seeks to normalise the RCC relative to other institutions.

There is nothing unbelievable about a Prince of the Church being a thoroughly corrupt criminal.

People who claim to be in direct communion with supernatural beings and and make a living from interceding with them on behalf of petitioners are widely regarded as dishonest or delusional. They used to be generally trusted and many still trust them. But many more don’t.

Being a Cardinal is now, in itself, grounds for suspicion. Perhaps also grounds for suspicion of a sense of invulnerability that might explain implausibly brazen attacks rather than the more usual furtiveness of corrupt criminals. Knowing that one is both untrustworthy and trusted could explain a lot.

But grounds for suspicion and grounds for conviction are quite different matters.

It is a crime under s316 of the NSW Crimes Act s where a person “knows or believes” that a serious crime has been committed, and fails, without a reasonable excuse, to inform the police.

An Archbishop convicted by a jury for failing to report child abuse under s316 was quite recently acquitted on appeal. The court held there was a reasonable doubt as to whether he believed the allegation.

There was no widespread dismay or enthusiasm about that Archbishop being charged and found guilty, nor at the subsequent acquittal.

That is because both the prosecution of the Archbishop and the appeal made sense and it is the normal function of courts for some jury convictions to be held unsafe on appeal.

But public reaction to the recent conviction of a Cardinal is much deeper and will not end with either result from the appeal.

What does not make sense is that there has been no regular flow of such cases, with both convictions and acquittals since the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse documented the extent of deliberate concealment of abuse by institutions supposedly caring for children, especially by religious institutions and most notoriously by the Catholic Church.

The Cardinal’s case is viewed quite differently because he was not charged with an offence that actually made sense.

The Royal Commission recommended codification of an offence similar to that now in s49o of the Crimes Act Victoria. This provides 5 years imprisonment for “Failure by a person in authority to protect a child from a sexual offence”.

The offence requires a substantial risk existing, knowing of the risk, being in a position with power and responsibility to reduce or remove the risk and negligently failing to do so, that is, “falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the circumstances.”

That seems a pretty good codification of the crimes that George Pell and his colleagues have been accused of but have not been charged with.

Does recent codification of the offence preclude charges based on crimes committed before the codification?

In what barbaric society has it ever not been a crime for people responsiible for taking care of children to neglect protecting them? Has the moral panic about child sexual abuse obliterated memory of the mandatory protection of children from harm in general that predates civilization and has nothing to do with either sex or police? “Little Children are Sacred”.

George Pell was convicted of raping two children because nobody from the Church he leads has been charged with notorious crimes of failing to protect children.

Retribution is an important element of criminal law enforcement quite separate from deterrence and rehabilitation. If you allow impunity for notorious crimes you can expect far worse than unsafe prosecutions on some pretext or other. Sacrifice of scapegoats may or may not catch a guilty scapegoat. But its most likely result is to satisfy the instinct for retribution while letting criminals escape justice.

Historically children complaining of abuse have often not been believed, not only by priests, and especially when the complaints are made decades after the event. That has made it necessary to relax rules of evidence regarding corroboration, tendency evidence and joint trials and to instruct juries that it is not uncommon for an adult to come forward with a complaint decades after the event and to be inconsistent about the details.

There was a history of police collaboration with authorities accused of child abuse, especially catholic police with church authorities. That had to be reversed by training police as well as social workers to side with and believe the accuser.

These changes are intended to increase the proportion of successful convictions and necessarily create a very real danger of wrongful convictions. There are good reasons for the opposite policies to be followed for most serious crimes. We prefer to risk guilty people being acquitted than innocent people being convicted.

The exception that has been made for child sexual abuse puts a heavy onus on prosecution authorities to determine whether a prosecution would be unsafe. They can make that decision more objectively at a distance. Police and social workers can still comfort and side with the victim despite the prosecutor’s decision not to put both accused and accuser through a trial that should, if it results in a conviction, ultimately be overturned as unsafe on appeal.

The alternative of putting every accusation before a jury that police trained to believe accusations find credible, would inevitably result in unsafe convictions.

No prosecution could be more manifestly unsafe than that of a rightly despised and reviled Prince of a Church whose leaders are widely known to have escaped trial for serious crimes of omission and concealment based on a single individual’s accusation about events two decades ago with no supporting evidence whatever.

George Pell could not give evidence himself because his credibility would have been ripped to shreds with questions about his behaviour in protecting the racket he works for instead of the children placed in their care. Putting him in the witness box would have presented the jury with an unsavoury character who deserves some sort of punishment for something.

The police actively solicited complaints against Pell. That is an understandable reaction to the impunity with which the Church he led has obstructed justice instead of rescuing children in their care from predators on their staff. The widespread enthusiasm and relief with which the verdict was greeted clearly reflects the same reaction. It has nothing to do with the specific charges and is openly proclaimed to be therapeutic for victims of the church generally. The coverage screams that it is sacrifice of a scapegoat.

I don’t agree that there was an atmosphere of hysteria that would have made a fair trial impossible.

It was quite possible that a jury could have concluded there was a reasonable doubt. A previous jury failed to agree. Perhaps that was what the prosecutors expected would happen. They just didn’t want to cop the blame for not locking up a creep like Pell themselves and preferred to leave it to a judge and jury who would be less likely to be accused of covering up.

Fear of such accusations would have had a real basis. Just look at the complaints from the Premier of Victoria and the likely next Prime Minister of Australia at the friends of Pell who showed “bad judgment” in standing by him with character references. It doesn’t take much courage for friends to not desert each other and it doesn’t take much courage for prosecutors to put up with accusations. But it takes utter shamelessness to parade one’s good judgment in shunning friends that are in trouble and demanding that others behave the same way.

I am no friend of George Pell, but I do know he should not be made a scapegoat just because the police wanted to look like they were doing something about the impunity and obstruction and the prosecution authorities didn’t want to be suspected of covering up church crimes. So do the shameless opportunists celebrating and denouncing.

So do Pell’s friends and referees. If he is eventually convicted of failing to protect children they may not agree but they won’t be able to convince themselves, let alone anybody else, that he was purely a scapegoat rather than legitmately accused and necessarily tried.

Pell’s conviction for raping children was manifestly unsafe because the prosecution was manifestly unsafe.

It is not enough for the conviction to be overturned and for genuine crimes of failure to protect to be tried. There are grounds for suspicion that there should also be another much more significant trial.

By offering a scapegoat the prosecutors were effectively avoiding difficult trials for real crimes. If that was done intentionally it was a direct attack on the rule of law by the authorities responsible for maintaining the rule of law. Whether it was done intentionally should be impartially investigated by an independent prosecutorial authority from another State, considering prosecution of the Victorian prosecutors for misconduct in public office.

Eventually a lot of people from a lot of institutions will need to be put on trial. For the Catholic church it is a world wide problem. Civil reparations throughout the world will require records from the Vatican and sale of the valuables in the Vatican. That first requires ending the pretence that it is an independent sovereign absolute monarchy as established by a treaty with the Italian fascist dictator Mussolini.

This Royal Commission quote from Pell looks to me like an admission of guilt for proceediings based on “command responsibility” and “criminal failure to take action to prevent foreseeable harm to children”. Many others would be joined in the same proceedings.

“If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible,” Cardinal Pell told the commission via video link from Rome.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said priests got access to children with the parents’ consent, unlike truck drivers.

“The relationship between the priest and a child is quite different to that between the truck driver and the casual passenger, isn’t it?” he asked Cardinal Pell.

“Yes, I would certainly concede that,” Cardinal Pell responded.”

The “ownership, the leadership” of the flock may view their role as shepherds preparing their flock for fleecing the same way other corporate criminals do. But our society is less tolerant of failure to protect children from abuse than of the usual run of corporate crime such as bankers stealing from dead clients.

I am not a prosecutor so it isn’t up to me. But Victoria urgently needs competent prosecutors with integrity.


Very well-written, Tom. But, please share with me how orally raping a child is making a scapegoat of Pell? Are you questioning the credibility of the complainant’s testimony? Your premise seems to be that a single accusation isn’t enough & as such, the appeal will get up on unsafe grounds.

Seems to me Toms making very definitive judgements About the strength of evidence to which none of us are privy.

Be interesting to know what evidence was inadmissible in the dropped swimming pool trial. From 4cnrs the other night it seems there were two witnesses claiming pretty much similar experiences, but one - the one who made the police complaint - died a couple years back. Leaving only one victim - maybe not one as confident as the one in the completed trial, or perhaps the poor bloke who died. Might have been a lucky escape for George on that one - guess we’ll never know.

Also one thing I saw Bolt had claimed about why Pell couldn’t have done it was that he hadn’t a record of proven convictions like most pedos did. I guess Bolt must assume they were born with those records. No pedo ever had a proven conviction before their first one, I’d be pretty sure!

Complete bollocks.

Why was he convicted of the crime of raping two children? The answer to that question lies in the question itself. Don’t create straw man arguments, @tom.


If Pell had been questioned in the witness box about a protection racket, I imagine there would have been an immediate objection and the judge would have instructed the jury to disregard the question on grounds of irrelevancy to the charge.


You’re right. It’s so obviously not a permissible question that the prosecutor wouldn’t even attempt to ask it.

I don’t know why Pell didn’t give evidence. On the face of it, it was an error of judgment.

nope. That’s the complete opposite of what I’m saying.

The Catholic Church and its followers will be expecting to get a Catholic Judge, if the appeal is successful.

The jury system is designed to have a group of people from different backgrounds, to counter the biases… that being one judge making a decision.

The Catholic Church has their fingers controlling the Government, controlling the mainstream media… and who’s to say if they have influence within the legal system.

Catholics are furious that they weren’t able to influence the Jury on the Pell Case. Which is why they are trying so hard to tarnish the Jury system.


News for you- it was a difficult trial and the RCC did the cops no favours and two boys were raped, which makes it a real crime.
The Victorian prosecutors should be applauded for conducting an exemplary prosecution, and hand the blueprint over to all of the other State DPP’s so that more like Pell end up in the pen.

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Most guilty persons avoid the stand, Shelton.


Whether you think he did it or not, the defence must have thought his response to cross examination would not look good.

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As I understand it, three judges will decide on the leave to appeal. I have enough faith in judges that they would would recuse themselves if their religious views /view of any kind of a religious denomination might be in conflict. The charges would probably be sins in any mainstream religion.
. It is just as ridiculous to claim that Pell might not get a fair hearing because the judges aren’t Catholic.
Why should Pell be accorded a different status than any other person accused of a crime.?


Maybe in spite of all his grievous sins, Pell may have told the truth under oath. Prosecutors would have been very eager to question him on the stand, and I am not so sure that questions about the RCC role in handling child abuse cases would have been stopped. Now I know that Australian Law is very different to that of the USA, but in similar cases in Boston, these questions were asked, as it was seen that the “protection” afforded RCC Clergy was a motivation to cause harm.

The press isn’t going to wait to release all the dirt on this scum bucket.


Why wouldn’t they be waiting or trying to get a sympathetic Catholic Judge to hear Pell’s appeal.
Prisoners and others facing court do it all the time. Keep adjourning the case for as long as it can legally be done until they get a friendly ear. Favours for favours - the boys club has far reaching tentacles. I’m expecting “the try on” but I hope it doesn’t happen.

Let’s see if the “stick” is on.

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