FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Crucial abuse hearing for top Vatican official opens in Australia

AUSTRALIA: A crucial hearing opened in Melbourne today (Mar 5) to determine if one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, Cardinal George Pell, will stand trial on multiple historical sexual offence charges.

crimereligionsex
Agency: AFP

Monday 5 March 2018, 08:51AM


This photo taken in October last year shows Cardinal George Pell (centre) arriving for a committal hearing regarding historical sex abuse charges at the Melbourne Magistrates Court. Photo: AFP

This photo taken in October last year shows Cardinal George Pell (centre) arriving for a committal hearing regarding historical sex abuse charges at the Melbourne Magistrates Court. Photo: AFP

The 76-year-old, the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with criminal offences linked to the Church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal, denies all the claims.

He has taken leave from his role as Vatican finance chief to fight the charges, which relate to incidents that allegedly occurred long ago. Their exact details and nature have not been made public, other than they involve “multiple complainants”.

Pell, in a beige jacket on top of a black shirt with a clerical collar, arrived by car and was escorted by dozens of police as he made his way up the steps and into the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

This was in contrast to his two previous appearances at preliminary hearings – in July and October last year – when he walked from his nearby lawyer’s office in chaotic scenes as he was mobbed by the media.

A small group of protesters and supporters, holding placards and signs, were outside the court.

“Go to hell George Pell,” shouted Valda Ann Hogan, while a supporter, Beverly Hastie, said: “I know him and he is an innocent man, a good man, a holy man and we’re here to support him.”

Up to 50 witnesses could be called during the committal hearing, where they will give their accounts and be cross-examined by Pell’s legal team. The hearings are due to last four weeks.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington will then decide if there is sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial.

The court was open to the media for some 30 minutes before the hearing was adjourned until the afternoon when evidence from Pell’s accusers is due to begin via video-link in closed proceedings.

The brief session, during which Pell coughed and cleaned his glasses but said nothing, dealt with procedural matters, including the formal withdrawal of one charge against the former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop after his accuser died.

QSI International School Phuket

His barrister Robert Richter also requested that someone be allowed to accompany Pell to court “in regard to the Cardinal’s age and medical condition”.

Pell was excused from giving evidence in person to a session of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 due to a heart ailment.

Pell does not have to formally enter a plea unless committed to stand trial, although he instructed his lawyer from the outset to make clear he intended to plead not guilty.

“For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has,” Richter said in July.

Pell’s defence team said last week that part of their cross-examination would be to determine when the accusers first disclosed he had allegedly abused them, as they try to prove the allegations were a “recent invention”.

Since his last appearance, the cardinal’s lawyers have been denied requests for medical records of the complainants, with the magistrate saying disclosure could be harmful.

His case has coincided with a national inquiry into child sexual abuse, ordered in 2012 after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations of institutional paedophilia.

The commission spoke to thousands of victims and heard claims of abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.

Pell appeared before it three times, once in person and twice via video-link from Rome over the Church’s handling of complaints against paedophile priests.

Australia’s Catholic leaders have spoken out in support of him, describing Pell as a “thoroughly decent man”.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
PM Prayut calls for tourism safety across all forms of transport

Does general Prayut not have a public relation team to keep him on right publicity track? All the ...(Read More)


Call to expedite Prawit probe

Just asking the dealers? Let me laugh. They only can be forced by court order, which the mates of Po...(Read More)


Isolated heavy rain forecast for South, Phuket

And we will see again, small boats ( like the 2 disaster boats) still will sail out. More disaster...(Read More)


Phuket officials inert as fishing boat breaks apart at tourist beach

While the pathetic marine safety officials are proving that Phuket is a dangerous and risky destinat...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

Look like Thai Ind. Standards Marine "Work Vests", the type that will not give one a clear...(Read More)


PM Prayut calls for tourism safety across all forms of transport

Another empty message, imploring Thai officials "to make sure everyone is safe". He does n...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

Re: I hope all bookings are cancelled and tourists never return here. I think it would be better i...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

The governor did put on his marine safety face, coz that day there was on Phuket no volunteer cleani...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

And it also looks like all the bright orange "life vests" are the same toy flotation aids ...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

"The government's efforts to overhaul safety measures across all forms of transport".....(Read More)