Melissa Davey

The Guardian
Tue 17 Sep 2019

Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell have lodged a special leave application with the high court to try to appeal his historical sex abuse convictions, which will be his final avenue to have his conviction overturned.

The high court on Tuesday confirmed it had received the application through its Melbourne registry.

The lodging of the appeal does not mean the high court will agree to hear the case. First, the matter will be considered by a panel of two to three judges, and will either be dismissed or approved. The parties may be called to a brief hearing for further consideration. A decision about whether special leave to appeal will be granted is usually made on the same day as the hearing.

At least five and sometimes all seven justices of the high court will hear the appeal if it is granted. The appeals process can take several months, and is unlikely to be considered before 2020. In the meantime, Pell remains in Melbourne assessment prison, receiving letters and visits from his supporters. Pell has maintained his innocence throughout the process.

The 78-year-old was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two 13-year-old former choirboys at St Patrick’s cathedral when he was the archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He will be eligible for parole after serving a term of three years and eight months.

In August, the Victorian court of appeal – the highest court in the state – dismissed Pell’s appeal. He had 28 days to appeal to the high court, with lawyers filing his application at the 11th hour on Tuesday. However, filing at the last minute is not unusual.

The jury had not been unreasonable in convicting Pell on one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of an indecent act against a child under the age of 16, the Victorian court of appeal chief justice, Anne Ferguson, and appeal court president justice, Chris Maxwell, previously found.


George Pell has every legal right to take his appeal to the very end of the legal chain.

For now he has been found guilty and is in prison.

If he is guilty, and a court has said he is, it is very cynical of him to put the victims through a lengthy battle in which they will relive their sufferings.

He seems to be in a “nice” prison where he is visited by many supporters.

That is fortunate for him.

He has had a long privileged life of power, influence, control and no shortage of funds.

Do we even know who is paying his massive and mounting legal fees?

Is Sydney archdiicese paying them out of church funds?

If so, is that ok?

It will be good when this long saga is over.

Even if his appeal is accepted the court may order a retrial.



Christopher White Cruxnow

NEW YORK – The diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming announced on Tuesday that it has substantiated three new allegations of abuse against retired Bishop Joseph Hart who could soon become the first U.S. bishop to face criminal prosecution for sexual abuse.

The diocese has previously investigated the cases of three other individuals, which were deemed credible and substantiated, bringing the total number of Cheyenne victims who have come forward to six.

“The allegations have been reported to the civil authorities, and the Diocese of Cheyenne has cooperated fully with the police,” the diocese said in a statement on Tuesday.

The diocese said Hart had declined to be interviewed in its review of the new cases, which they had been given authorization by the Holy See to conduct prior to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) passing new directives for bishop accountability measures.

Results from the latest investigation have been sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the release confirmed.
Hart’s ecclesiastical career spanned nearly three decades in Cheyenne, where he was first made an auxiliary bishop in 1976. He led the diocese from 1978 until his retirement in 2001.

Prior to being named a bishop, Hart had served as a priest in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for two decades following ordination in 1956.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has already settled 10 cases of abuse against Hart.

In two settlements alone – one in 2008 and another in 2014 – the diocese has paid out nearly $20 million dollars to more than 50 plaintiffs in cases that included Hart among other priests of the diocese.

In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Steven Biegler praised the victims for coming forward and pledged the Church’s support in their healing.

“I applaud the victims who have come forward to report sexual abuse to the police or the Church. Your courageous action helps us to address these terrible crimes, and your example encourages other victims to find their voice,” he said. “As the Church, we promise to protect the most vulnerable and to accompany those who have been harmed on a journey of healing.”

Biegler was named bishop of Cheyenne in 2017 and upon arriving re-opened an investigation into Hart.

In July 2018, the diocese announced it had found two allegations against Hart “credible and substantiated” and also said it was cooperating with the local police in a new criminal investigation into Hart, as Wyoming has no statute of limitations for criminal cases.

In June, the diocese announced that the Vatican had greenlighted a canonical penal process against Hart. If he is found guilty, he could be stripped of his title of bishop and removed from the priesthood.

In August, Cheyenne’s police department recommended that charges be brought against a member of the Wyoming Catholic clergy – and another person “seeking membership” in the clergy – of abuse during the 1970s and 1980s.

While state law prevents the suspects from being identified, a press release said the investigation “stems from a case initiated in 2002 that was reopened in 2018 when new information was produced and provided to the Cheyenne Police Department by an independent investigation conducted by the Wyoming Diocese of the Catholic Church.”

The subject of that 2002 investigation was Hart.

As Hart faces both criminal and church investigations, victims have expressed concerns that he could die before either process is completed. In a three-part investigative series by Crux last month, one victim from Cheyenne said that “I want him to face a reckoning from the very institution that protected him all these years.”

Hart will turn 88 later this month and continues to reside in a private residence in Cheyenne.

Follow Christopher White on Twitter: @cwwhite212


This was bound to happen sooner or later in the US – the prosecution of a bishop for sexual abuse.

Our other friend McCarrick should be joining Hart in prison.

I have aleays said that the one thing that will make the RC church swing into action on abuse would be the imprisoning of bishops, archbishops and cardinals.

It would not do any harm if an auld pope got sent down.