PopeWatch: Cardinal Pell

It is difficult reading appeal courts, but it appears that the prosecution of Cardinal Pell had a rocky day in court:

According to reports, Pell’s prosecutors, led by Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerry Judd QC, shifted their position on key evidence relating to Pell’s alleged sexual assault of two choirboys after Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

The prosecution has previously argued that there was a five- to six-minute window of opportunity during private prayer time immediately after Mass for Pell to have committed the offenses.

Several witnesses, including church officials, have testified that Pell – who had recently been appointed the Archbishop of Melbourne at the time of the alleged offense – would never have been alone in the cathedral. Moreover, they say it was his invariable practice to greet churchgoers at the front doors of the building immediately after Mass ended. Pell’s defense has also pointed out that he would have been fully vested immediately after Mass, making the logistics of the alleged offenses highly improbable.

Monsignor Charles Portelli, an aide to Pell in 1996, when the offenses are alleged to have taken place, has said that it was Pell’s habit to spend 10 to 20 minutes on the steps of the cathedral after Mass.

During the first day of the appeal hearing yesterday, Pell’s lawyer, Brett Walker SC, said that there was “simply not the available time for it to occur.’’

But Judd changed her position at the appeal hearing today. Rather than saying that there had been a five- to six-minute window of opportunity for the offense, Judd instead said that it could not be stated for certain how long the private prayer time had lasted.

Judd also accepted that the prosecution may not have sufficiently negated the evidence of Monsignor Portelli, so as to exclude reasonable doubt about the alleged crimes.

When challenged by one of the High Court judges that Portelli’s evidence would necessitate an acquittal, because it would cast reasonable doubt over the convictions, Judd replied: “I do accept that when you look at Monsignor Portelli on his own, we may not be able to negate this to the standard we need to.”

“But in my submission, when you look at the whole of the evidence, it does,” she added.

Another crucial point in the case is whether the Victorian Court of Appeal, which last year upheld Pell’s original conviction by jury, should have viewed the video testimony of Pell’s sole accuser, which was presented at the original trial. Ordinarily appeal courts only view the transcripts of such recordings.

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel said at today’s hearing: “It’s very difficult to say how [the video] affected an intermediate appellate court judge in terms of how they read the transcript.”

“That’s why you really shouldn’t do it [watch the video] … unless there is a forensic reason to do it. To what extent is this court to determine the extent to which the court of appeal was influenced by the video?”

John Macauley, a former altar server at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne who has been present in court throughout the appeal hearing, commented earlier today that “the crown’s case had collapsed under the weight of its own malicious absurdity.”
‘Justices are demolishing the Victorian government’s malicious and vexatious witch hunt against Cardinal Pell’

During the trial proceedings, Macauley posted to Facebook: “justices are demolishing the Victorian government’s malicious and vexatious witch hunt against Cardinal Pell. If they keep up their probing questions then they’ll leave themselves no choice but to order +Pell’s immediate release.”

Go here to read the rest.  The case has now been taken under advisement.  Keep praying.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Here’s the sentence at the end that ought give everyone pause:

    “The High Court has now granted the prosecution team two working days for any supplementary submissions.”

    I expect that means the prosecution will be allowed to salvage their case –at least to a majority of the judges.

  2. I defer to your experience and expertise.

    I just feel like they’ll take any excuse to keep him locked up, because, innocent or not, somebody’s got to pay.
    Which goes to Jr’s previous point about justice.

  3. That could be. It is also possible that they will realize the blot this has created on the image of Australian justice around the globe. I imagine their is a fair amount of irritation/anger that the trial judge didn’t simply grant a verdict of not guilty to the defense before the case was sent to the jury, and now they have to figure out what to do with this mess. From a professional standpoint the case is a prime example of a potted plant judge.

  4. If the judge is a potted plant, the prosecutor would seem to be a particularly voracious Venus flytrap.

  5. I hate what has been done to Cardinal Pell. Really, hate is not strong enough a word. As most know, the Pennsylvania AG dug up a bunch of cases of abuse dating back decades and the result is that the statute of limitations is being threatened specifically in regard to Catholic priests. Anyone can then accuse a dead priest and fleece the diocese.

  6. And after the lawyers take their cut, they contribute to the AG’S gubernatorial campaign.

    Proving Don Vito Corleone correct: a man can steal more with a briefcase than with a gun.

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