Cardinal George Pell leaves Barwon Prison on April 7
George Pell first learned that he was a free man when an acclaimed choir echoed in the high security prison where he was held, with his first reaction to the High Court decision: “Well , that’s great “.
Cardinal Pell wakes up on his first full day on Wednesday as a free man, placing behind him overturned convictions for child sexual abuse.
The Australian High Court acquitted him on Tuesday, finding that there was not enough evidence for the jury to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt, as he did in December 2018.
The 78-year-old was watching television just after 10 a.m. when the news broke.
“I was watching the TV news in my cell when the news came … I thought,” well, that’s great. I’m thrilled, “he said to the Daily Telegraph through his friend.
“Of course, there was no one to talk to about it before my legal team arrived. However, I was highly acclaimed somewhere in the prison, and then the other three inmates near me also cheered. “
Asked by a prison guard what he thought of the “miracle”, Cardinal Pell replied that there was no miracle, only “justice”.
Pell leaves the Victoria Supreme Court in Melbourne on Thursday, June 6, 2019 after his initial conviction
After more than 400 days in prison – first at the Metropolitan Remand Center in Melbourne and later at Barwon Maximum Security Prison – the Cardinal was taken to the Carmelite Monastery in the east of the city.
His first meal as a free man was steak and vegetables, which were cooked by nuns.
Cardinal Pell did not stop to speak as he left the prison and instead issued a statement saying that the serious injustice he had suffered had been corrected.
“I have no ill will towards my accuser, I don’t want my acquittal to add to the pain and bitterness that so many people feel; there is certainly enough pain and bitterness, “he said.
Cardinal Pell said his trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church or the way in which the authorities of the Australian Church treated pedophilia.
“The important thing was to know if I had committed these horrible crimes, and I did not do it,” he said.
A nun closes the doors of the Carmelite monastery of Kew, where George Pell remains after his release from HM Barwon prison in Geelong
Carmelite Monastery of Kew, where George Pell stayed after his release from HM Barwon prison in Geelong
Cardinal Pell was charged by Victoria police after a man protested in 2014, alleging that he and another altar boy were sexually assaulted at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.
The boy, now in his thirties, testified in court, revealing that he felt compelled to come forward after the death of the other boy.
A jury convicted Cardinal Pell of five counts in December 2018 after a previous jury was unable to reach a verdict.
The Victoria Court of Appeal confirmed the convictions last year.
With the coronavirus sending Queensland locked out, the forecourt and the road to the Brisbane High Court were empty for the Tuesday ruling.
Only three journalists were allowed into the courtroom after Chief Justice Susan Kiefel made her decision.
“There is an important possibility that an innocent person may have been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt at the level of evidence required,” said the full jury of seven judges in their judgment.
Unlike the Victoria Court of Appeal’s decision last year, the judgment was not broadcast live.
Instead, the High Court published the judgment online and tweeted the news around the world.
The father of the altar boy who died in 2014 was shocked by the court decision and his lawyer Lisa Flynn said in a statement that he was heartbroken for the surviving boy.
“Our client says that this man, who according to the jury, is an honest citizen who had nothing to gain from expressing himself other than to protect other children from the pain and suffering with which he must live daily,” said Ms. Flynn.
The father will continue to pursue a civil case against Cardinal Pell.
Lawyers for the surviving complainant are scheduled to speak on Wednesday.
The charges against George Pell:
The surviving choirboy alleged that Pell had caught him and his friend pouring altar wine and said something like “What are you doing here?” or “You’re in trouble”.
“There was this time when we all froze, and then he undid his pants or his belt, as if he were starting to move under his dress,” he said.
‘He shot [the other boy] aside then he took out his penis and then grabbed [the other boy’s] head.’
He said the other boy was struggling while Pell’s hands were around his head and shoulders.
The surviving choir boy said that Pell then turned his attention to him and put his penis in his mouth.
“Archbishop Pell was standing. He was erect and he pushed it into my mouth.
Pell was originally discovered to have exposed himself and forced a boy to practice oral sex on him inside the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne (photo). He always maintained his innocence
As an archbishop, George Pell had to wear heavy clothing, which a retired priest told broadcaster Alan Jones would make it impossible for him to expose his genitals easily.
A key argument in defense of the cardinal was that he could not have assaulted the boys in the dress he wore on the day of the alleged major offenses.
Cardinal Pell’s clothes that day included an alb – a white tunic that reached the feet and had two slits to allow access to the pants pockets but no zippers or buttons.
The alb was securely fastened around the waist with a knotted rope, which also secured a stole hanging around his neck, and above the alb was a heavy decorative chasuble with no slits or openings.
Only one of Cardinal Pell’s accusers testified at the trial against the man who rose to become the treasurer of the Vatican. The other alleged victim died of a heroin overdose and denied having ever been abused.
The testimony of the living complainant was not made public, but some of it was revealed from the bar table during the Pell County Court trial.
Cardinal George Pell has always argued that it would have been physically impossible for him to expose himself to a pair of 13-year-old choirs. His clothes include an alb, a chasuble, a stole and a cincture
How Cardinal Pell Pleaded for Freedom
The timing of the alleged assaults was impossible.
It was not possible for Pell to be alone in the sacristies only a few minutes after the end of the mass.
It was not possible for Pell to be robbed and alone in the sacristy of the priests after mass.
It was not possible for two choir boys to be sexually assaulted in the sacristy of priests after mass by Pell without being detected.
It was not possible for two sopranos in dresses to leave an outside procession without being noticed.
The criminal acts attributed to Pell were physically impossible.
No one corroborated the second incident, although the complainant stated that it occurred in the midst of a choir of 50 people.
County Court Chief Justice Peter Kidd erred in not allowing Pell’s defense to present a video in his closing arguments, and that there was a “fundamental irregularity” in the way Pell was arrested at trial.
Psychologist and former priest Terry Laidler attended almost the entire trial and told the ABC Law Report that a set of dresses had been produced and sent to the jury room.
Cardinal Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter QC called the complainant’s version of the facts “far-fetched fantasy”. He said that his client’s bulky robes would have prevented access to his genitals.
The prosecution argued that it was still possible for Cardinal Pell to expose his penis to boys during the flight because of the slots in the alb.
The sacristan Max Potter told the county court that Pell would never have worn the alb alone. It would rather be under a chasuble and perhaps a dalmatic, another thick layer of liturgical garments.
“The weight of these clothes is not light,” said Potter. It would be “inhumanly possible” for Cardinal Pell to have exposed himself through the robes.
Cardinal Pell’s former master of ceremonies, Monsignor Charles Portelli, also disagreed with the suggestion that the then-archbishop could have exposed himself through the secure alb.
“The purpose of the cincture is to keep the alb in place. “
The clothes were so heavy that Cardinal Pell needed help stealing and undressing, and Bishop Portelli could only remember two times when the chief clerk had not needed his help in five years.
Pope Francis exchanges Christmas greetings with Cardinal George Pell at Clementina Hall on December 22, 2014 in Vatican
Pope Francis appeared to speak on Tuesday of the cancellation of George Pell’s child sexual convictions
Pope Francis appeared to speak of the reversal of the sexual convictions against George Pell before Easter.
The head of the Catholic Church apparently compared the cardinal to Jesus in a tweet on Tuesday.
“In these days of #Low, we witnessed the persecution that Jesus suffered and how he was ferociously judged, even if he was innocent,” wrote Pope Francis.
“Let us pray together today for all those people who are suffering from an unjust sentence because of someone who sentenced him. “
Supporters of Cardinal Pell are photographed in front of the High Court of Canberra on March 11
Pope Francis also seemed to comment on Cardinal Pell during his Tuesday morning mass.
“I would like to pray today for all those people who are subjected to unjust punishments resulting from intransigence (against them),” he said at the start of the proceedings.
He compared the suffering of those serving unjust sentences to the persecution of Jesus with “stubbornness and rage even if he was innocent.”
Pope Francis had previously concentrated his morning masses and his prayers on the coronavirus pandemic.