Abuse hearing for Vatican treasurer Pell ends amid fiery accusations

Fiery accusations by the defense against witnesses and even the magistrate dominated the last days of a month-long co...

Posted: Mar 29, 2018 12:53 PM
Updated: Mar 29, 2018 12:53 PM

Fiery accusations by the defense against witnesses and even the magistrate dominated the last days of a month-long committal hearing into allegations of abuse against Cardinal George Pell, the treasurer for the Vatican.

Pell has attended Melbourne Magistrates Court every day of the hearing, which concluded Thursday after listening to testimony from 50 witnesses, including a number of Pell's accusers.

The cardinal, Australia's highest-ranking Catholic official, is alleged to have committed abuse in the 1970s, in locations including a swimming pool, a cinema, a chapel and on a hill top in country Victoria. Pell has vehemently denied the allegations.

An additional allegation of abuse emerged during the committal hearing, of an incident at a sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. Between 1996 and 2001 he was the Archbishop for the city.

A final decision on whether the case will proceed to trial will be made by the magistrate at an undisclosed future date. There is still a further hearing to take place on April 17 for the defense and prosecution teams to make their verbal submissions to the court.

When he was initially charged in June last year, Pell said he hoped to clear his name in Australia and return to his post in Rome, where he is a trusted senior figure in the Holy See, alongside Pope Francis.

Defense lawyer attacks magistrate

Pell's defense lawyer Robert Richter made headlines throughout the course of the committal hearing for his fierce and confrontational defense, at one point calling for the magistrate overseeing the case, Belinda Wallington, to be disqualified.

Richter, 72, considered one of Australia's leading criminal barristers, condemned the police investigation and also accused a journalist who wrote a book on Pell of "poisoning the public's mind."

On Wednesday, during a discussion about precise dates Pell is alleged to have abused someone at a cinema, Richter criticized the magistrate for not accepting a date he'd suggested as fact.

Famous for his temper and forensic questioning, Richter then proceeded to make an extraordinary formal application to Wallington herself that she should be stood down from the case.

"I apply for your honor to be disqualified from further proceedings in this matter on the basis of (a) biased view of the evidence," he told the court.

Wallington immediately responded, saying: "Your application is refused." Richter did not appeal the decision or make further submissions.

Police investigation questioned

It was revealed for the first time this week, during cross-examination of Paul Sheridan, head of serious crime division, Crime Command, Victoria Police, that detectives had secretly planned to arrest and question Pell when he was supposed to attend a Royal Commission hearing in Melbourne in November 2015.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held hearings across Australia for years, including in Pell's home town of Ballarat for several weeks in May 2015, where there were multiple cases of clergy abuse.

Ten days before Cardinal Pell was due to travel to Australia, to give his testimony, he announced he was too unwell to fly. Cardinal Pell eventually gave video link evidence from Rome in March 2016.

Among his criticisms of the police investigation during the committal hearing, Richter told the court it would have been "illegal" to arrest Pell just to question him.

He also broadly criticized the detective work of the special Victoria Police operation to investigate Pell, "Operation Tethering." Sheridan confirmed it was created in 2013 to purposely gather information on the Cardinal.

The defense attorney alleged there was no supporting evidence or witnesses to back up the claims of abuse by the accusers, many of whom he claimed had been treated in psychiatric wards in the past and had allegedly also been abused by other clergy.

Richter claimed the police operation "lay dormant" for nearly two years without a single accuser until the squad suddenly deepened its inquiries because of "public and political pressure."

He suggested the pressure was due to the Royal Commission hearings taking place at the time.

Richter also hit out at the detectives who investigated allegations against Pell, claiming proper procedure was not followed when interviewing potential witnesses.

He said even though detectives got search warrants to raid several addresses in Melbourne in 2016 they failed to search the archives at St Patrick's Cathedral for Pell's diaries that would have pin-pointed his movements and possibly helped vindicate him.

Cardinal to return for final decision

Pell is expected to spend the holy weekend in a seminary in New South Wales to await the decision of the court.

In the meantime huge crowds are expected at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican where Pope Francis will lead mass Sunday and give the Easter message.

In an exclusive report in January, CNN revealed Pell has been staying in the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, Sydney, with 40 trainee priests while he fights the case.

As the cardinal left the court Thursday he declined to answer questions from CNN about how he felt at the end of the committal case.

He has been excused from attending a submissions hearing on April 17 but will return for the final decision at a date yet to be announced.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21315

Reported Deaths: 890
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7168539
Ramsey243797
Stearns195012
Nobles14692
Anoka121056
Dakota110235
Olmsted56210
Washington52729
Kandiyohi4681
Rice3862
Clay37324
Scott3582
Wright2531
Sherburne2142
Todd2040
Mower1891
Carver1742
Benton1672
Steele1410
Martin1255
Blue Earth1151
St. Louis11113
Freeborn930
Pine850
Winona7815
Carlton730
Nicollet695
Cottonwood640
Otter Tail600
Polk592
Watonwan560
Crow Wing561
Goodhue552
Itasca537
Chisago481
Dodge440
Chippewa420
Meeker420
Le Sueur411
Jackson390
Morrison380
Becker370
Murray350
Lyon340
Douglas290
Isanti280
McLeod270
Waseca250
Unassigned229
Rock210
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Swift160
Wabasha160
Brown122
Beltrami120
Faribault120
Sibley120
Wilkin113
Cass112
Kanabec111
Norman110
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pennington90
Pope80
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Koochiching60
Yellow Medicine60
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Lincoln50
Clearwater30
Big Stone30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Redwood30
Grant20
Houston20
Roseau10
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17533

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3774108
Woodbury262424
Black Hawk168239
Linn93575
Marshall87011
Dallas85714
Johnson6027
Muscatine54539
Wapello5144
Crawford4862
Tama39423
Scott3379
Louisa3347
Dubuque32316
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2430
Pottawattamie2126
Sioux2070
Washington1808
Wright1220
Allamakee1184
Plymouth1160
Warren1110
Story951
Poweshiek888
Mahaska856
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Des Moines551
Boone550
Cedar461
Guthrie433
Taylor390
Benton371
Jones360
Clarke350
Iowa330
Monroe334
Osceola320
Buchanan320
Shelby310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Hamilton260
Fayette260
Monona240
Madison241
Winneshiek230
Lee220
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Harrison190
Jefferson180
Floyd181
Mills160
Cherokee160
Butler150
Delaware150
Keokuk140
Greene130
Sac130
Hardin130
Humboldt130
Ida130
Howard120
Jackson120
Appanoose123
Hancock120
Audubon111
Cass110
Van Buren100
Clay100
Page100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Dickinson90
Franklin80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Emmet70
Union70
Kossuth70
Unassigned60
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Pocahontas40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
Rochester
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Mason City
Few Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 65°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Charles City
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Storms a brewin'
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Weather 5/25

Image

Honoring Veterans During a Pandemic

Image

Loud Mouth Brass Band spreads cheer to residents in Slattery Park

Image

Finding the silver lining during the pandemic

Image

Will Memorial Day cause a coronavirus spike?

Image

Can you catch Covid-19 from mosquitos?

Image

125 Live Restaurant partnership

Image

Taps in City Park

Image

100 Most traveled days in MN have begun

Image

Parade in the park

Community Events