Tag Archives: Chris S Friel

Cdl Pell and the tower of Pisa commission

The Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse leant so far leftwards that it threatened to fall over. Like the Tower of Pisa, the Commission needs some remedial work to prop it up. Chris Friel probes the Get Pell fiasco.

The Royal Commission as a Weapon

Chris S Friel

The Get Pell shot-gun has two barrels, Operation Tethering, the fishing expedition that looked for abuses that the Cardinal himself had committed and, set up at roughly the same time, the Victorian and then Royal Commissions into institutional child sex abuse that focussed on places where Pell lived, Ballarat and Melbourne. This essay will take a look at one aspect of a report on the latter.

The Cardinal was acquitted by the High Court of Australia last month and so the Royal Commission released its previously unredacted sections.i These include references to Pell in “Case 35”on the Archdiocese of Melbourne that among other things relate how he handled Peter Searson when in1989 he received a delegation from concerned teachers. My focus will be the way the commissioners tried to support their findings in the light of the evidence. I will explore the question of whether that evidence was weaponised as part of the Get Pell project.

Reading through the report there is no doubt that it is Archbishop Little who is damned for his abject failure to protect children. But as the Twittersphere was quick to point out, the then Auxiliary Bishop was criticised too. One example suffices to make the point:

This is KEY. The commission found “It was incumbent on Pell … with responsibilities for the welfare of the children … to take such action that [pedophile] Father Searson be removed or, at least, a thorough investigation be undertaken.” Searson died in 2009 without facing charges.i

In response, Pell made a statement that included the following:

As an Auxiliary Bishop in Melbourne 1987-96, Bishop Pell met with a delegation from Doveton Parish in 1989 which did not mention sexual assaults and did not ask for Searson’s removal. Appointed Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 August 1996, Archbishop Pell placed Fr Searson on administrative leave in March 1997 and removed him from the parish on 15 May 1997. iii 

Pell expressed surprise at the findings, but in truth they were eagerly awaited by his opponents who correctly sensed that the unredacted version was like Hamlet without the prince. Thus, Louise Milligan had a couple of chapters on the episode in her book, and she was ready with a thread when the full version was finally released.iv

Read the rest here…

Restating the critical evidence

Today Chris Friel posted a short ‘Restatement of a Significant Piece of Evidence in the Pell Case’.

“He didn’t say in evidence or committal or anywhere that the wine bottle was in the sink area. He said it was in the alcove area … So he always maintained that the wine bottle was there in the alcove. He never maintained it was in that new sink area we know exists now.” 
– Mark Gibson, Closing Address.

In the Crown’s closing address to the jury the Crown made much of this indication, and the Crown have repeated the “significant” point in their submission to the High Court. However, in a number of papers now I have argued that beyond reasonable doubt these claims are factually incorrect. No doubt, after it became apparent that the “new sink area” was once a wardrobe, the story shifted and was then maintained consistently. It had to because, not only does the idea of finding wine in the wardrobe gives the lie to the claim that the complainant was remembering the place as it was in 1996, but also it indicates embarrassingly, that this so-called knowledge dates from after 2004 implying that the complainant must have been coached somehow.

In a single page I intend to point out the basis on which I argue my claims. There are five strands.

Read the rest HERE

The Prosecutors’ ‘lack of Principle’

The so-called ‘hiatus’ is the critical element in the prosecution’s case against Cardinal Pell. It refers to a time framework during which the sacristy where Cardinal is alleged to have abuse two choirboys was unattended, allowing Pell to have free unimpeded use. Anybody who knows anything about serving Mass – not just at St Patrick’s Cathedral – knows that people are everywhere active after Mass. It is especially the case at St Patrick’s Cathedral when it is a Solemn High Mass for a special occasion.

It’s just embarrassing nonsense for the state prosecutors and the majority in the appeal to seriously maintain there were five to six minutes when the fully robed archbishop, unimpeded, could take two 13-year-old boys and force them to engage in three sex acts as if in some miraculous way the priest’s sacristy with Pell and the choirboys had warped into another dimension. Indeed, that’s what it would have taken – warping into another dimension. The prosecution and majority had to execute some tricky ballet moves to get what they wanted but only ended up tripping themselves into a farcical tangle. It would make a great Monty Python sketch if it wasn’t for the appalling injustice.

Chris Friel takes up the impossibility of the five to six minutes to focus on the lack of principle in the prosecutions’ fancy footwork to make the free-time proposition credible.


It Only Takes Five Minutes

Chris S Friel

What I shall do, though, is show just how unprincipled the case against Pell is, indeed, sneaky.

The Crown has been check-mated by the hiatus. According to the prosecution the complainant was assaulted during an interval of five to six minutes in a normally busy sacristy. It can be shown,however, that no opportunity existed for such an assault to occur undetected. The Crown suggest that a hiatus arose within the hive of activity. But a breakdown of the cases shows that this is impossible.

For either the hiatus was early, that is, before the processing altar servers returned to the sacristy or else it was late, that is, just after the servers returned. It can’t have been early for the room was locked, and besides, the errant choristers could not have got to the room before the servers. It can’t have been late for the court heard evidence that the activity of clearing up the sacristy began immediately, and besides, concelebrating priests were also part of the procession and when they arrived at the sacristy they stayed to chat.

The game is over.

Along with others, I have argued this point in fine detail over many pages.i However, in this paper I shall spell out the unprincipled way in which the prosecutors tried to have it both ways. Sometimes they painted a picture of an early hiatus; sometimes they painted a late hiatus. It’s the lack of principle that I wish to spell out.

In what follows, then, I shall try locate the contentions, first for an early, and then for a late hiatus.Individually, these arguments cannot be sustained but I shall not dwell on the point here as elsewhere I have already attended to the issues with some care. What I shall do, though, is show just how unprincipled the case against Pell is, indeed, sneaky. Let’s begin with the early hiatus.

Read on…

Continuing to destroy the prosecution case

With his forensic probing, Chris S Friel continues to take apart the Crown’s case against Cardinal Pell. What sort of juveniles sit on the state’s benches in Victoria?

The Two Wings of the Pell Case

Chris S Friel

Pell’s case has two wings. In truth, there are many pointers to Pell’s innocence but it is helpful to simplify and think in terms of the grounds argued by Bret Walker for the defence. Ground 1, roughly, implies that in effect the burden of proof was reversed. Ground 2 argues, in effect, that nevertheless, even if it was up to Pell to prove his innocence this could be demonstrated by showing that there was no opportunity for the offence to have occurred. These arguments are crystallised in the “steps alibi” and the “hiatus theory” respectively.

Portelli’s evidence that he was always – or virtually always – on the steps with the Archbishop after Mass to meet and greet parishioners is as good as an alibi.i Because an alibi completely negates the opportunity for a crime it demands refutation once it has been raised since it provides a good reason to doubt the charges. Portelli gave evidence of a practice, better, he could recall actually being with Pell on those special early days when (a) Pell was new, (b) the Cathedral was now being used again after repair, and (c) parishioners would have been eager to meet and greet the colourful Archbishop. Given that evidence was heard from the choir marshal who retired that Christmas that the meet and greet custom was already established (and Pell only celebrated two Sunday Masses that Advent), and also from Daniel McGlone, who recalls introducing his mother to Pell on one of those occasions, it is obvious that the “steps alibi,” even if it has been questioned, has not been negated. As such, the prosecution have clearly not taken up the burden of proving their case beyond reasonable doubt.

Continue reading Continuing to destroy the prosecution case

Cardinal Pell’s Impossible Sin

Chris S Friel destroys the prosecution case that resulted in the greatest miscarriage of justice in Australia’s history, demonstrating to what extent Australian state and society have been degraded.

There are many problems with the Crown’s submission to the High Court,i but here I shall spell outsome difficulties with the way that they now maintain howPell’s assault was possible.

A first point is that under cross-examination the complainant insisted that both assaults happened immediately after Mass.ii The defence, however, at the trial and in appeal, countered that this was impossible as what was done could not have gone undetected in that busy place. Tacitly, this is now conceded by the Crown. The difficulty with the “immediately after Mass” theory is that immediately after Mass the choirboys would have been in a procession.

That procession would have included altar servers who made up the front and the rear – two acolytes at the end being deputed to return the Archbishop’s mitre and crozier while he remained at the West Door. As the Crown no doubt realises, it has been demonstrated that the servers would have reached the sacristy first (because the boys took a circuitous route to the place where th eassault took place).iii It was not physically possible to get to the scene of the crime before them and also endure a five minute assault.

Read on…

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…

Summary of the Pell Papers

Chris S Friel working from the other side of the world has done outstanding work on the Cardinal Pell Affair. He has produced a series of sharp compelling analyses of all the important features of Cardinal’s conviction for sexual abuse of a minor. Friel’s work will be in the frontline of any research serious investigators undertake in scrutinising of one of the most shocking sets of circumstances in Australia’s history.

On the eve of The High Court of Australia’s decision about allowing an appeal, Friel has posted an extremely useful summary of the work he has done. One can access it on the Academia website. I have produced it below.


by Chris S Friel

This is a brief summary of the work I have done on the Pell case followed by a bibliographical note also on my Academia page, “The Pell Papers.” I shall refer to the number of each paper (in text) where the article for each number is identified in the list immediately following.

I began writing with (1, 2) which drew attention to what I thought two key issues, namely, the way that the story of the complainant had shifted, and of the difficulties I saw in Milligan’s Cardinal. Much of the subsequent work involved trying to clear up the ambiguities, and an overview can be found in a long review of Milligan’s book (22). This was written in July, between the appeal hearing and the ruling. I look at:

  • The Get Pell Network
  • The significance of the Southwell Inquiry
  • The various coincidences in timing that indicate how, around the time when the complainant went to the police, various “memories” were suspiciously reconstructed in order to implicate Pell.
Continue reading Summary of the Pell Papers