All posts by gcw

Pell case: ‘Accusation is proof’

Accusation as Proof: Uncorroborated Historic Sexual Abuse Allegations

Professor Dennis J. Baker, Montfort University, Leicester

1. Introduction

In this paper, I want to examine the issue of proof raised by the recent appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria in Pell v. The Queen. 1 Following decades of child sex abuse scandals and the emerging culture of “accusation is proof,” some campaigners have argued for legal reforms to increase the number of convictions. The Guardian newspaper has reported that the Children’s Commissioner for England “has suggested lowering the burden of proof in cases of child sex abuse to the civil standard of balance of probabilities.”2 A balance of probabilities standard of proof would lead to many wrongful convictions. Given the current culture of accusation is proof, might the law now be powerless to prevent some innocent people from being convicted?

If accusation by convincing storytelling is all that is needed as proof in historic sex offences cases, then criminal justice risks adopting an approach of it is better to convict a few innocent people than let one guilty person go free. A convincing raconteur might convince even the most seasoned professionals of his or her lies. Carl Beech superlatively demonstrated the power of convincing storytelling when he convinced senior police, journalists, MPs, lawyers and others that Sir Edward Heath, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor MP, among others, committed sex offences against him when he was a child. Remarkably, the police said his allegations were credible and carried out an investigation over many years ruining the lives and distinguished careers of some of those who were subject to the false allegations. Politicians (including the current Deputy Leader of the Labour Party),3 journalists, police and other MPs all took his claims as very credible.4

Read on…

The contemptible overrated Derryn Hinch

Long-time radio personality  Derryn Hinch said on Twitter that Abbott’s visit to Cardinal Pell on Monday was a “disgrace and a cruel insult to his victims”. Before looking at this irrational outburst, typical of Hinch, let me review the character of Derryn Hinch as I have observed him through the years.

Like me, Hinch is a baby-boomer, born in 1944. He is two years older. A more significant tag, though, is that Hinch is a 60s-generation-sexual-revolution lad. Evidence of the 60s-generation mentality is his five marriages without issue. Being a lad of the 1960s, one would expect a string of carefree sexual encounters – certainly expected by someone in a media power position. Was there sexual impropriety in any of those encounters? The following appears in Wikepedia’s entry about Hinch.

In his 2004 book The Fall and Rise of Derryn Hinch, and in a radio editorial in March 2005, Hinch admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old female when he was in his early thirties, although he stated he “thought she was about 25”. Following his on-air admission, Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt called for his prosecution. In 2013 Hinch wrote that after 30 years the woman had contacted him and said he was wrong about her age. She said she was born in 1961 and they met shortly after he joined 3AW in 1979. That made her 17 at the time of the liaison (which is above the age of consent in Australia).

Continue reading The contemptible overrated Derryn Hinch

‘We will get you, Pell, no matter what’

Under the heading Cardinal Pell’s appeal to go to High Court, Peter Westmore reported the news about the High Court Appeal in News Weekly on 16 November. He summarises the course of events leading to the conviction of the Cardinal as well as raising serious issues about Victoria’s legal system.

What is new in this report is that ‘two women, Lil Sinozic and Jean Cornish, who worked at the cathedral at the time have come forward to say that they believed the allegations were “impossible”.’ See their testimony below.

What I find particularly significant is their claim that after Mass protestors holding placards shouted ‘PELL, GO TO HELL’. and ‘WE WILL GET YOU, NO MATTER WHAT’ while the Cardinal was greeting Mass goers.

All the evidence points to collusion and tight organization behind the unceasing vilification of George Pell with the uncompromising and non-negotiable object of ‘getting him’, of destroying him. The evidence points to the hierarchy of Victoria police and the Andrews government as players – among others less visible. They have succeeded beyond their dreams.

Continue reading ‘We will get you, Pell, no matter what’

Getting into the warped mind of Daniel Andrews

Tony Abbott visited his friend Cardinal Pell who has been in solitary confinement for months on end for crimes many people here in Australia and around the world refuse, on the evidence, to believe he committed. Indeed, some of us think Australia has descended into a Alfred Dreyfus phase of justice – meaning no justice.

Leaving aside a probable case of a miscarriage justice, surely there is nothing wrong in Abbott’s visit, as there would not be for anyone visiting a prison inmate. No sane person, no person who governs himself according to the ordinary rules of reason, would find a problem here, neither in terms of logic or fairness. Not Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria. Reason does not come into it.

Continue reading Getting into the warped mind of Daniel Andrews

The Christian Way Forward in a Time of Crisis

by Rod Dreher, Quadrant, 7 November 2019

I wish I were here with good news. Actually, I believe I do have good news. I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful. Hope, as I will explain, is not the same thing as optimism. To find our way to hope, we first have to be painfully honest about the bad news.

These are not normal times. We in the West are in the worst spiritual and social crisis since the collapse of the Roman empire. We don’t see this collapse clearly because it is hidden by our wealth. But make no mistake: the fundamental pillars of Western civilisation are crumbling—none more consequentially than the Church.

Our crisis is actually a combination of crises.

It is a crisis of meaning. In the postmodern West, we have arrived at a place where many people no longer believe that meaning exists at all, and that we can know it.

Read on…

George Pell – ‘a challenge to the dominant consensuS’

George Weigel is an internationally known American author, political analyst, and social activist. He currently serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a highly regarded speaker. He wrote the foreword to Tess Livingstone’s book GEORGE PELL published in 2002. Weigel pays generous tribute to George Pell’s qualities as a Catholic bishop. He already notes the vicious incomprehensible slander that the newly appointed Archbishop of Sydney received. Much of that slander has become the accepted ‘truth’ about Pell.

FOREWORD to GEORGE PELL by Tess Livingstone
Duffy & Snelgrove, Sydney 2002

Dr George Pell’s appointment as Archbishop of Sydney was a major news story across Australia — one that I could follow in real-time in Washington, DC, thanks to the Internet. Having been Down Under just five months before Dr Pell’s March 2001 transfer from Melbourne, I thought I knew at least something about the robust give-and-take of Aussie journalism. But it was difficult to recognize the George Pell I had known for almost 35 years in many of the reports I read on his appointment to Sydney.

Continue reading George Pell – ‘a challenge to the dominant consensuS’

Cardinal Pell’s supernumerary torture

I thought all sympathy and compassion for Cardinal Pell had disappeared from the public square . Indeed, It seemed the malice and malevolence of the Pell lynch mob monopolised the space.

So it is a tribute to Professor Mirko Bagaric, director of the Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project at Swinburne University, for publicly showing some compassion for the Cardinal – and for the Australian in publishing his views about the Cardinal’s circumstances. Professor Bagaric has pointed out what many of us have realised. Cardinal Pell is undergoing a supernumerary torture at the hands of the State of Victoria. He writes:

People should be sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. Research shows that prisoners subjected to long periods of solitary confinement often suffer irreparable long-term mental and physical harm. George Pell is being subjected to modern-day torture by his prison conditions. They are grounds for a strong argument that he should be granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the High Court.

Pell has reportedly spent all of the time he has been incarcerated (almost nine months) in solitary confinement at the Melbourne Remand Centre. He is let out of his cell for just an hour a day. That such a high-profile Australian is being subjected to these brutal conditions should be the catalyst we need to start the debate to abolish the use of this form of incarceration for all Australian prisoners…

Studies show supermax confinement — particularly isolation of more than 15 days — has long-term detrimental effects on mental health of prisoners, including insomnia, panic, hallucinations, suicidal impulses, feelings of hopelessness and paranoia. The highest rates of prison suicide and self-harm occur among those in solitary confinement.

When inmates are placed in isolation or supermax units, they are also at risk of physical harm. Lack of exposure to sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency, making inmates more susceptible to falls and fractures. The near total absence of movement and exercise exacerbates conditions such heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. The physical harm caused by solitary confinement often results in long-term disabilities and additional longer-term healthcare costs. This is especially the case with elderly prisoners. Pell is 78.

Now Pell’s appeal has been referred to the Full Court of the High Court, his prospects of bail are stronger. Appeal bail will be granted only in exceptional circumstances (Marotta v R [1999] HCA) and it is a hard test to satisfy. However, an important relevant factor is whether an acquittal would make the benefit of the acquittal hollow.

It is likely the circumstances of Pell’s confinement have already caused him significant psychological and physical harm. The extent of his suffering is likely to be exacerbated the longer he remains in isolation. That harm is probably irreversible.

The strength of any bail application would be enhanced by the fact there is a reasoned dissenting judgment by Justice Weinberg, and that Pell is not a flight risk.

Supermax and isolation units should be abolished. We can protect prisoners from other prisoners in ways that do not involve barbaric conditions: employ more prison officers. The additional cost would be less damaging than the moral stain stemming from the deliberate infliction of intense, ­unnecessary pain on inmates.

Could the Andrews government just for a moment break from its class’s malevolence towards all things Catholic and do the compassionate and just thing – FREE CARDINAL PELL ON BAIL while he awaits the High Court process.

Chris Friel analyses Milligan’s ‘Cardinal’

Academic Chris Friel, on the other side of the world in Cornwall, has produced a series of permanently relevant articles on the conviction of Cardinal Pell. His latest is a forensic analyses of Louise Milligan’s book CARDINAL. Milligan’s book has been a boon for Australia’s army of anti-Catholic bigots.

Milligan’s Cardinal

By Chris S Friel

Introduction. In this paper I will critically review Louise Milligan’s Cardinal, drawing chiefly on the 2019 edition published after Pell’s conviction in 2018 for child sex abuse. The subtitle reads, New Revelations, The Rise and Fall of George Pell. The first edition was published in 2017. The book by the renowned ABC journalist was the primary instrument in the “trial by media,” and very plausibly, it softened up the jury – despite the fact that it was removed just before the police pressed charges against the accused. As my review will make clear, I regard the book as a malign influence.

We can cite the blurb to make some opening remarks. Thus we learn that “Pell’s ascendancy was seemingly unstoppable … But … Louise Milligan pieces together decades of disturbing activities highlighting Pell’s actions and cover-ups. The book is a testament to the most intimate stories of complainants.” My review will address the “actions” rather than the supposed “cover-ups,” for such actions are relevant to the two trials Pell faced: the “swimmers trial” relating to indecency alleged in the 1970s, and the “cathedral trial” in which a jury found Pell guilty. Arguably, it was in bringing such actions to “light” that Milligan stopped Pell’s ascendency. To all this we can add the blurb from Senator Derryn Hinch, “This book is one of the most forensic, explosive, historically detailed tomes I have ever read.”

We take such words as our cue. We hope to explode the pretensions of Milligan’s work and subject those historical details to rational scrutiny. The word “forensic,” actually, is etymologically linked to the word “forum,” and so pertains to the public square. We hope our rational scrutiny will prove forensic in the full sense of the word.

Read on…

Madame defarge speaks – again

The Guardian Australia in its report of the Pell High Court appeal sounded out the ubiquitous Chrissie Foster for her reaction. It was the usual stuff from the pale Madame Defarge of the Pell case. There was no way she would let the opportunity pass. The Cardinal should be marched directly to the blade. All that justice stuff is injustice.

Chrissie Foster, whose daughters were abused by the pedophile priest Kevin O’Donnell and who detailed a lack of support from Pell when she reported the offending to the church, said she was “devastated” by the court’s decision.

“The more I think about it the more devastated I feel about it,” she said. “It’s so hard to get a conviction of this crime against children. This case got that conviction. Now it’s going out of Victoria to the high court to be rehashed over.

“George has had the best of everything, the best defence money can buy, the best county court judge, and three top minds in the appellate court judges who heard the first appeal. And it feels now it’s all back to square one. It really is upsetting. What do we have to do to have this conviction stick?”

The cardinal Pell I know

The Catholic weekly published an article by Samuel Brebner, a 23-year-old Catholic from New Zealand. Among other comments, he said this about Cardinal Pell.

I worked for Cardinal Pell in 2012, as part of a gap year I did with an organisation called NET (National Evangelisation Teams) in Australia. I, along with five other young Catholic adults, were assigned to the Sydney Team. Our full-time job was to do youth ministry in the archdiocese; running high school retreats, organising youth groups, and helping out at large-scale events.

Right from the moment I arrived in Australia, what struck me about Cardinal Pell was the stark differences in the attitudes people held towards him. To some, Pell was a monster, a man who embodied everything bad about that Catholic church and who had allegedly been complicit in covering up sexual abuse by Australian priests.

Continue reading The cardinal Pell I know