David Marr The Guardian
The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free.
These barristers don’t have a heads up. They’re only talking among themselves.
But those who have followed this prosecution as it has made its slow and dramatic way to the high court must face the possibility that the cardinal is about to be acquitted.
Historic child sex assaults make difficult cases. The facts are frequently bizarre. So often there is no corroborating evidence and the word of the accuser is simply pitted against the denials of the accused.
These trials test the criminal law.But Pell’s accuser was undoubtedly convincing.
We will never know everything he had to say about events at St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997 – he gave all his evidence in camera – but we do know that after convincing the police and prosecution authorities in Victoria, he convinced a jury and then two out of three judges of the court of appeal that Pell raped him.
Pell’s lawyers disagree, of course, but acknowledge how compelling the unknown young man’s evidence has been. Indeed, it’s the lynchpin of their case. Pell’s counsel,
Bret Walker SC, argues the jury and the court of appeal were so swept away by the cardinal’s accuser – by his testimony and his demeanour in the witness box – that they downplayed the evidence in Pell’s favour.George Pell’s appeal ‘glosses over’ evidence that supports conviction, DPP saysIn lawyer speak: “Belief in a ‘compelling’ complainant does not, ipso facto, equate to the elimination of reasonable doubt.”
When the court assembles on Wednesday, a dozen of the finest legal brains in the land will be debating Pell’s fate at a level of stratospheric complexity. But the core argument for the cardinal is simply stated: that the testimony of more than 20 church witnesses left no “realistic opportunity” for him to assault two boys after a solemn mass at St Patrick’s in December 1996.
These altar servers, organists, masters of ceremonies and choirboys from back in those days spoke of locked corridors, regimented processions, old rituals inside the building, new practices on the cathedral steps, crowded rooms, church law, and robes too complicated to expose an archbishop’s penis.Walker’s point is that the combined testimony of these “undisputedly honest witnesses” ought to have left the jury doubting “highly improbable” allegations of rape and sexual assault.
And he accused the appeal court judges whi believe that George Pell is guilty.If the Australian high court acquires him he will be free and presumed innocent.We must all accept the court’s verdict.Could the Aussies retry him?
LIVE MASS BROADCAST FROM THE ORATORY
I am having an IT guru to come to The Oratory over the weekend to help me to set up live Mass broadcasts.I’ll keep readers informed.
HELPING THE HOMELESS IN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.
Dear Bishop Patrick,
I’m taking this opportunity to thank you, especially now, for your invaluable support to vulnerable, homeless young people during these uncertain times.
Hopefully I’m able to reassure you that we, like you, are doing our part in taking precautions and tackling the challenges that the Coronavirus is placing on each and every one of us.
As the entire country prepares to take more drastic measures to contain the pandemic – school closures, reduced public transport, social distancing, city lock-downs – at Centrepoint, we too, are doing our very best to focus on the safety of the young people in our care and the wellbeing of our staff.
Operating over 60 services across the country and providing over 1,100 bed spaces for homeless young people, we remain, as ever, firmly dedicated to providing the additional support that young people need during this difficult time.
And while this may be the biggest challenge Centrepoint has ever faced, we are fortunate to have such skilled and compassionate people who, I’m confident, will get us through it.
I’d like to share a message from our Wandsworth Housing and Support Manager, Matthew Carlisle, who tells us what his service is experiencing right now.A message from the front line“We are working tirelessly to ensure that young people have all the right information they need to keep themselves safe, whilst providing the everyday essentials – like toilet roll, sanitiser, cleaning products, hand soap, etc.
This is a struggle in itself, due to the panic buying that is happening everywhere.”Visitor bans are in place in our services to restrict the number of people coming in and out, as we want to keep young people’s homes as safe as possible throughout this period. Funds are being used to buy food and other essentials as and when young people need them, as a lot of our usual food donations have stopped deliveries due to the crisis.
“We will also help young people if they have to go into self-isolation by adapting services to cope, and we are reassuring them they’re not alone and staff will be here to help them through.
One of the most important things we’re doing is giving emotional support to young people – who are scared like the rest of us.
“Young people have said to me today that they are shocked that staff are still here in services. I have told them, ‘I will be here unless I get sick, and so will my staff. We won’t disappear when things get tough. We will get through this together by following the guidelines and supporting each other when needed.’
“I cannot keep services safe and Covid-19 free without young people’s cooperation, and as always they have not disappointed me yet. They are positive, listening to advice, and they are a pleasure to serve.
”We are expecting a major loss in our income as several of our fundraising activities and events are now cancelled.
But we are doing what we can to minimise the impact of this to our support services for homeless young people. The situation is constantly evolving and we will be updating you regularly in the following weeks. On behalf of everyone at Centrepoint, and the young people we serve, thank you for standing with us. We will get through this together.
Best wishes,Jane West
Head of Supporter Giving, Centrepoint
We must care FOR EVERYONE in the Coronavirus crisis.
But, if you are homeless how can you self isolate?How can you wash your hands hourly.
You will have no problem being6 feet away from others.
They will not come within 6 feet of you.
I support centrepoint.
Can you support them- or some other homelessness charity?