The Age newspaper, which has been in the forefront of the unrelenting and unmerciful media attacks on Cardinal Pell, posted excerpts from the police interview with the Cardinal on youtube (see below) detailing the charges for which he was convicted last December. I offer an analysis of the complainant’s claims.
We first see the Cardinal listening attentively to the police interviewer as he reads an account of the boys’ action leading to the alleged abuse. The boys found their way to the sacristy at the back of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The Cardinal interrupts to ask which sacristy the interviewer is talking about, that is, in which sacristy the boys found the altar wine, the Archbishop’s sacristy or the priest’s sacristy. The Cardinal now wears a sceptical expression. The interviewer is stumped for a moment. He obviously doesn’t know there was more than one sacristy. The interviewer says it was presumably the Archbishop’s sacristy where Pell at the time would have vested and unvested. This is the first howler. The Cardinal says no wine is kept in the Archbishops’s sacristy.
Unfortunately Cardinal Pell does not exploit this serious error in the interviewer’s narrative. But just as serious, he comments that the wine in the priest’s sacristy is always locked in a ‘formidable safe’ and always supervised by the sacristan and his assistant when open.
The interviewer continues with his narrative. The Cardinal wants him to confirm he is talking about ‘after Mass’ and not after choir practice. With that confirmed, the interviewer says that he, Cardinal Pell, arrived at the sacristy. But the Cardinal interrupts the interviewer again and says what is alleged about his whereabouts at that point is ‘counterfactual.’
‘After every Mass,’ he says, ‘I would stay out at the front of the Cathedral and talk to the people.’ Cardinal Pell’s routine after Mass has been described in detail by commentators like Fr Frank Brennan and confirmed by the Cardinal’s Master of Ceremonies who accompanied him everywhere after Mass. The complainant’s accusation does not square with the Cardinal’s long established routine and his rigid attitude to the sacred liturgy.
There is a break here in the video which leads to the interviewer reading the detail of the accusation. The Cardinal allegedly prevented the boys from leaving the sacristy where the wine was, says the interviewer. ‘Then you moved your robes to one side and exposed your penis…’
‘Oh, stop it!’ says the Cardinal spontaneously, showing a mixture of disgust and indignation. The interviewer continues, ‘And then with your back to the door…’
The Cardinal interrupts him again – in heightened disgust. ‘What a load of absolute disgraceful rubbish! Completely false! Madness! All sorts of people used to come to the sacristy to speak to the priest…the sacristans were around, the servers were around…’ This account of the activities each Sunday at the sacristy is confirmed by others. The Cardinal’s strong reaction is the natural reaction of someone innocent of the claims.
After another break in the video, the interviewer continues, ‘You grabbed (the complainant) by the back of his head and forced his head down onto your penis.’ The Cardinal turns to the side with a worn helpless expression. ‘In the sacristy after Mass?’ he says. ‘Completely false.’
‘This has gone on for a short period of time,’ the interviewer continues, ‘before you let go of (the complainant) and grab (the other boy) and done the same instance [sic] and forced his head down onto your penis.’
Cardinal Pell stares disbelievingly. ‘Completely false.’
‘The boys were terrified at this stage,’ the interviewer continues, ‘and it’s been described that holding (the accuser) with two hands on the back of his head before stopping at which time he stood back with…. in the middle of the room beside him [sic]. It’s then alleged that you then said “take off your pants” and you stepped up to him, knelt down and started to fondle his penis and masturbated yourself at the same time.’
The Cardinal stares at the interviewer, ‘This is in the sacristy in the Cathedral after Sunday Mass?’ he repeats in frustration. When the interviewer answers in the affirmative the Cardinal again says, ‘Need I say anymore? What a load of garbage and falsehood – deranged falsehood. My Master of Ceremonies will be able to say that he was always with me after the ceremonies until we went back to the car park or the presbytery.’ He again listed all the different people who were around at that time, meaning it would have been impossible to carry out such action unobserved. Many commentators familiar with the routine of Mass at the Cathedral back him up. There is a break in the video.
‘There is a further incident alleged,’ says the interviewer. ‘Sometime after this, at least a month later, and again after church…it’s been alleged by (the complainant) he was walking along the corridor heading back to the changing rooms, after Mass, and still in his robes, when he was pushed against the wall by someone, saw that it was yourself who pinned him to the wall with one hand and moved in close and used your other hand to grab his genitals over his clothes squeezing hard. It was a brief attack that only lasted a couple of seconds.’
‘Well, that’s completely false,’ says the Cardinal leaning forward, ‘and I will be able to demonstrate I was out at the front of the Cathedral then. I was always out at the front of the Cathedral. I never came back with the kids.’ The excerpts end here.
What Cardinal Pell’s accuser claims happened in the sacristy at St Patrick’s is not only near impossible without someone seeing and intervening, but it is similarly impossible to do things that deviate from the fixed routine in any Catholic church after Mass. I was a server in primary and secondary school. My experience as a server and my knowledge of the layout at St Patrick’s Cathedral prompts me to think that the accuser is not only concocting a story or suffering from delusions but has never been an altar boy or been anywhere near a sacristy.
It’s just fantasy to think that anyone can wander into a sacristy and start swigging the altar wine that has inexplicably been left unattended. It’s total nonsense. Only people who know nothing about the Catholic Church or hate Cardinal Pell (there is an infestation of them in the media) would swallow such nonsense.
I have said sufficient for the purpose about the incoherence of the complainant’s claims – at least for those who are accustomed to using the normal operations of reason. I refer the reader to the declarations of others on my website. I want now to bring up something that I find really weird.
Let’s say Cardinal Pell has done a Houdini and escaped all the usual people and circumstances after Mass and ends up in the priest’s sacristy where he finds two choir boys who have also escaped the choir master and all those connected with the choir.
(My apologies to Cardinal Pell for what I am going to say. It can’t be helped if I am to show how weird the accuser’s claims are.)
The 55-year-old Cardinal suddenly experiences an erection on seeing two boys he has never seen or spoken to before. Without more ado, he struggles to extract his erect penis from under the many layers of vestments , his cassock, his trousers and his underpants. Remember he has a window of six minutes – the time it took according to the accuser to complete the alleged actions. Also keep in mind the Cardinal is 55-years-old. There is a huge difference in the erectile function and recuperative powers between a twenty-year-old and a 55-year-old. Thirdly, there is the assumption that Cardinal Pell is homosexual. There has never been any proof offered for this assumption.
Let’s say the Cardinal has defeated all the obstacles (not least the exertion which might have unwished for consequences) and exposed his erect penis. Now he must use one hand to grab and manipulate the boy’s head and the other hand to hold the heavy vestments and cassock up and his trousers and underpants down. There is no other way to continue the operation. The police interviewer said the complainant claimed the Cardinal ‘moved his robes to one side’. Not possible. This claim shows the accuser doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to an Archbishop’s vestments. Fr Frank Brennan explains:
Witnesses familiar with liturgical vestments had been called who gave compelling evidence that it was impossible to produce an erect penis through a seamless alb. An alb is a long robe, worn under a heavier chasuble. It is secured and set in place by a cincture which is like a tightly drawn belt. An alb cannot be unbuttoned or unzipped, the only openings being small slits on the side to allow access to trouser pockets underneath. The complainant’s initial claim to police was that Pell had parted his vestments, but an alb cannot be parted; it is like a seamless dress. Later the complainant said that Pell moved the vestments to the side. An alb secured with a cincture cannot be moved to the side. The police never inspected the vestments during their investigations, nor did the prosecution show that the vestments could be parted or moved to the side as the complainant had alleged. The proposition that the offences charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed incredible to my mind.(See Fr Frank Brennan’s account in Eureka Street) and the following blog comments for further elaboration of this alleged scenario).
Anyhow, despite the difficulties of the garments and the moving target, the Cardinal manages to insert his penis into the boy’s mouth ‘for a period of time.’ Then, still executing the same strenuous manoeuvre to keep his penis exposed and ready for action, he moves to the second boy and completes the same action. Finally, ordering the accuser to drop his pants, he fondles the boy’s penis while masturbating himself. Surely the act of masturbation would have forced the Cardinal to release the many garments held in place by the other hand, the release of which would surely have buried the member in question.
I find this scenario weird and fantastic.
An erect penis in operational mode is looking for a climax. Every man knows this. What happened then in this particular search? Did this particular erect penis climax three times within a period of minutes? That would take superhuman powers of recuperation, way beyond a 55-year-old. Most men would find the first action irresistible, in which case one would end with a flaccid member, with little purpose or motivation to carry out the alleged second and third actions. There are two other options which it is unnecessarily distasteful to describe, but are just as weird.
It’s just all too weird and fantastic to believe.
My account thus far has been from the point of view of the doer. What about the two choir boys? What did they do? Did they just cry and subject themselves to the alleged assault and afterwards wander back to the choir without any sign of the vicious assault they allegedly suffered. Again, in this respect I find the complainant ‘s account weird and fantastic.
If I think back to the time I was thirteen, there is no way in the world I would have stood and let myself be assaulted in the way described without reacting. Boys don’t do that. At the very least I would have started yelling and tried to escape from the room. With the doer tied up in his garments and busy assaulting the other boy I would easily have made my escape and rushed to the nearest adult. My frantic account of what I had experienced would have brought many people in the vicinity rushing to the sacristy to see what was going on.
But say that completely out of character, I suffered a big erect penis to be shoved into my mouth, something I could never have imagined, I would have gagged and choked and vomited to the point of collapse. That would have brought the many people in the vicinity running to the aid of a thirteen-year-old lying on the floor heaving. I could develop this scenario, but I feel the point has been made.
As for the charge of bailing up the accuser and squeezing his genitals, I need not go on. The accuser’s credibility has been annihilated.
From every angle, the protected complainant’s account of Cardinal Pell’s alleged assault is weird, fantastic and unbelievable in the extreme.