“Cardinal George Pell ‘under investigation’ over allegations of child abuse” & related article

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news.com.au
FEBRUARY 20, 201610:56PM
Lucie Morris Marr and AAP  Herald Sun

CHILD abuse advocates have reportedly backed calls by Victorian police to be able to fly to Rome to interview Cardinal George Pell.

According to the Sunday Herald Sun, detectives from the Sano Taskforce are eager to question Cardinal Pell on child sex abuse allegations — and want to fly over as soon as possible to do so.

Cardinal Pell has vehemently rejected allegations he sexually abused minors.

The Herald Sun claims Victoria Police Sano taskforce has a collection of documents alleging Cardinal Pell committed “multiple offences” while he was a priest in Ballarat and also the Archbishop of Melbourne.

Senior figures in the Catholic Church have voiced their support for Cardinal Pell, saying he is an “honest” man and accusing the media of undermining the work of the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

A statement issued from Cardinal Pell’s office states “the allegations are without foundation and utterly false”.

In the statement, the Catholic Church says the timing of the leaks is “clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church and undermine the work of the Royal Commission”.

The claims have not been raised with Cardinal Pell by police, but have instead come to his attention via media reports, it states.

The statement refers to the “Phillip Island allegations” which it says are “outrageous” and “clearly designed to embarrass the Cardinal”, despite being available on public record for nearly 15 years.

“The Southwell Report which exonerated Cardinal Pell has been in the public domain since 2002,” it states.

“The Victorian police have taken no steps in all of that time to pursue the false allegations made … [and] have never sought to interview him in relation to any allegations of child sexual abuse.” The statement calls for those Victoria Police members who leaked the confidential information to media outlets to be scrutinised in a public inquiry.

Now the Vatican’s finance chief, Cardinal Pell is to give evidence to the sex abuse royal commission via video link from Rome from February 29.

The commission ruled he could give evidence from Rome because ill health prevents him from flying.

The Victoria Police taskforce has been investigating allegations of abuse by Cardinal George Pell.

The Herald Sun says a team of detectives from Sano taskforce has compiled a dossier containing allegations that Pell committed “multiple offences” when he was a priest in Ballarat and when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

It has been alleged the 74-year-old, who says he is unable to fly to Australia to give evidence to the Royal Commission due to ill health, sexually abused minors by “both grooming and opportunity’’.

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF CARDINAL GEORGE PELL
Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in just over one week.

The timing of these leaks is clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church and undermines the work of the Royal Commission.

The allegations are without foundation and utterly false.

It is outrageous that these allegations have been brought to the Cardinal’s attention through a media leak. These undetailed allegations have not been raised with the Cardinal by the police and the false claims investigated by Justice Southwell have been ignored by the police for over 15 years, despite the very transparent way they were dealt with by the Cardinal and the Catholic Church.

The Cardinal has called for a public inquiry into the leaking of these spurious claims by elements in the Victorian Police in a manner clearly designed to embarrass the Cardinal, in a case study where the historical failures of the Victorian Police have been the subject of substantial evidence. These types of unfair attacks diminish the work of those good officers of the police who are diligently working to bring justice to victims.

The Phillip Island allegations have been on the public record for nearly 15 years. The Southwell Report which exonerated Cardinal Pell has been in the public domain since 2002.

The Victorian police have taken no steps in all of that time to pursue the false allegations made, however the Cardinal certainly has no objection to them reviewing the materials that led Justice Southwell to exonerate him. The Cardinal is certain that the police will quickly reach the conclusion that the allegations are false.

The Victorian Police have never sought to interview him in relation to any allegations of child sexual abuse and apart from the false allegations investigated by Justice Southwell, the Cardinal knows of no claims or incidents which relate to him.

He strongly denies any wrongdoing. If the police wish to question him he will co-operate, as he has with each and every public inquiry.

In the meantime, the Cardinal understands that several media outlets have received confidential information leaked by someone within the Victorian Police. For elements of the police to publicly attack a witness in the same case study that has exposed serious police inaction and wrongdoing is outrageous and should be seen for what it is.

Given the serious nature of this conduct, the Cardinal has called for a public inquiry to be conducted in relation to the actions of those elements of the Victorian Police who are undermining the Royal Commission’s work. .

The Cardinal calls on the Premier and the Police Minister to immediately investigate the leaking of these baseless allegations.

__________________________________

Cardinal George Pell denies sexual abuse allegations

George Pell: sexual abuse allegations ‘utterly false’

The Age   Victoria

Date  February 20, 2016

Liam Mannix

Cardinal George Pell has denied that while a priest in Ballarat and as Archbishop of Melbourne he sexually abused minors. Vision courtesy ABC News 24.

Cardinal George Pell has vehemently denied allegations that he sexually abused minors while a priest in Ballarat and as Archbishop of Melbourne.

The Herald Sun’s report on Friday evening claims Cardinal Pell is being investigated by Victoria Police’s Sano taskforce for committing multiple offences, by “both grooming and opportunity”.

The report claims police have spoken to “numerous” alleged victims as part of their year-long investigation.

Cardinal Pell photographed in 2013.

Cardinal Pell photographed in 2013. Photo: Joe Armao

It is understood that Sano’s investigation of Pell has been ongoing for the past 12 to 18 months. It is not known whether it is an active or open investigation based on preliminary inquiries.

Victoria Police declined to comment on the report.

In a statement released by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Cardinal Pell said the allegations are “without foundation and utterly false” and called for a public inquiry into the leak.

Cardinal Pell, 74, is due to testify to the royal commission on February 29.

He will give evidence via video link from Rome, where he now manages the Vatican’s finances, after the royal commission accepted that he was too ill to return to Australia.

Cardinal Pell has previously appeared before the royal commission twice: in person in Sydney in March 2014, and via video link in August 2014, while it was investigating the Church’s Melbourne Response, established by the Cardinal while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

Cardinal Pell said in his statement that he had been exonerated after claims of historic sexual abuse were made against him in 2002. He said those “false claims” had been ignored by police for 15 years.

The complaint he refers to centres on allegations he abused a boy at a church holiday camp at Smiths Beach, Phillip Island, in the 1960s.

According to the complaint, Cardinal Pell, then a student priest, fondled the young boy’s genitals. Cardinal Pell, who always denied the allegations, temporarily stood down as Archbishop of Sydney in 2002 after the accusation was made.

Reports at the time said an investigation by retired Victorian Supreme Court judge Alec Southwell found the accusation could not be established.

The closed-door inquiry – organised via the National Committee for Professional Standards, which also oversees the abuse complaints processes for the Catholic Church, Towards Healing – concluded that both the complainant and the Cardinal were honest witnesses.

“I accept as correct the submission of (counsel) that the complainant, when giving evidence of molesting, gave the impression that he was speaking honestly from an actual recollection. However, the respondent, also, gave me the impression that he was speaking the truth,” Mr Southwell said.

The absence of forensic evidence due to the 40-year interval since the alleged offence, the complainant’s credibility, lack of corroborative evidence and Cardinal Pell’s sworn denial of the accusations were key factors in the inquiry’s conclusion, Mr Southwell said at the time.

In December 2015, Sano taskforce detectives investigating historic allegations of abuse publicly appealed for information about sexual assaults at St Patrick’s Cathedral between 1996 and 2001, during which time Cardinal Pell was archbishop of Melbourne.

The investigation centres on claims that 14-year-old boys were sexually assaulted at the church.

Detectives were understood to have executed search warrants on buildings linked to the church in East Melbourne, Melbourne, Maidstone and Toorak, on December 2

In his statement on Friday, Cardinal Pell said it was “outrageous” that the sex abuse allegations had been brought to his attention through the media.

“These undetailed allegations have not been raised with the Cardinal by the police”, the statement said.

“He strongly denies any wrongdoing. If the police wish to question him he will co-operate, as he has with each and every public inquiry.”

“For elements of the police to publicly attack a witness in the same case study that has exposed serious police inaction and wrongdoing is outrageous and should be seen for what it is,” the statement said.

“The Cardinal calls on the Premier and the Police Minister to immediately investigate the leaking of these baseless allegations.”

A Victorian government spokeswoman said: “If, as reported, there is an investigation currently before Victoria Police it would be inappropriate to comment.”

Victoria Police would not comment on the Herald Sun’s report.

“Taskforce SANO is currently conducting a large number of investigations into historic sexual offending,” Sergeant Anthoula Moutis said.

“Victoria Police will not provide a running commentary on these investigations as it would be inappropriate to do so. Victoria Police encourages all victims of sexual assault and child abuse, and anyone who has knowledge of such a crime, to make a report.”

With Beau Donelly, Jane Lee

Do you know more? Email scoop@theage.com.au

The Cardinal’s full statement:

LEAKED ALLEGATIONS SPURIOUS AND FALSE – CARDINAL GEORGE PELL

Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in just over one week.

The timing of these leaks is clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church and undermines the work of the Royal Commission.

The allegations are without foundation and utterly false.

It is outrageous that these allegations have been brought to the Cardinal’s attention through a media leak. These undetailed allegations have not been raised with the Cardinal by the police and the false claims investigated by Justice Southwell have been ignored by the police for over 15 years, despite the very transparent way they were dealt with by the Cardinal and the Catholic Church.

The Cardinal has called for a public inquiry into the leaking of these spurious claims by elements in the Victorian Police in a manner clearly designed to embarrass the Cardinal, in a case study where the historical failures of the Victorian Police have been the subject of substantial evidence. These types of unfair attacks diminish the work of those good officers of the police who are diligently working to bring justice to victims. The Phillip Island allegations have been on the public record for nearly 15 years. The Southwell Report which exonerated Cardinal Pell has been in the public domain since 2002.

The Victorian police have taken no steps in all of that time to pursue the false allegations made, however the Cardinal certainly has no objection to them reviewing the materials that led Justice Southwell to exonerate him. The Cardinal is certain that the police will quickly reach the conclusion that the allegations are false.

The Victorian Police have never sought to interview him in relation to any allegations of child sexual abuse and apart from the false allegations investigated by Justice Southwell, the Cardinal knows of no claims or incidents which relate to him.

He strongly denies any wrongdoing. If the police wish to question him he will co-operate, as he has with each and every public inquiry.

In the meantime, the Cardinal understands that several media outlets have received confidential information leaked by someone within the Victorian Police.

For elements of the police to publicly attack a witness in the same case study that has exposed serious police inaction and wrongdoing is outrageous and should be seen for what it is.

Given the serious nature of this conduct, the Cardinal has called for a public inquiry to be conducted in relation to the actions of those elements of the Victorian Police who are undermining the Royal Commission’s work.

The Cardinal calls on the Premier and the Police Minister to immediately investigate the leaking of these baseless allegations.

_____________________________________

Cardinal Pell hits back at claims he is ‘under investigation’ over child abuse allegations

Reports claim Australia’s most senior Catholic and head of the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy is being investigated for ‘multiple offences’

The Guardian

Melissa Davey and Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome

Friday 19 February 2016 12.59 GMT
Last modified on Friday 19 February 2016 22.01 GMT

Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell in 2014. His spokesperson says the allegations were ‘clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church’. Photograph: Jane Dempster/AAP

A top Vatican official, Cardinal George Pell, has strongly denied allegations of involvement in child sexual abuse, saying they are without foundation and utterly false after reports he is being investigated for “multiple offences” while serving in senior positions within the church in Australia.

Police would not comment on Friday night whether they are investigating Pell, who is Australia’s most senior Catholic and the head of the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy, over the allegations.

Pell has called for a public inquiry to be conducted into the Victorian police, saying the allegations were leaked to damage him.

News Corp Australia claims detectives from taskforce Sano have compiled a dossier containing allegations that Pell committed “multiple offences” when he was a priest in Ballarat, a town in the state’s west, and also when he was working as the archbishop of Melbourne.

Police also refused to answer general questions about whether they were investigating claims related to historical child sexual abuse related to the diocese of Ballarat or the archdiocese of Melbourne.

However, according to the report, the investigation by Sano detectives has been taking place for the past year. A dossier compiled by the detectives says Pell allegedly sexually abused minors “by both grooming and opportunity”.

“We can not comment on investigations into any individuals,” Victoria police told Guardian Australia on Friday night.

The allegations were “clearly designed to do maximum damage to the cardinal and the Catholic church and undermine the work of the [Australian] royal commission [into institutional responses to child sexual abuse],” a spokesman from the Vatican in Rome told the Guardian.

Pell is due to give evidence to the commission on 29 February via videolink from Rome. Pell was initially due to fly to Melbourne in December to give evidence in person, but he cancelled at the last minute, with his lawyers tendering medical documents to the commission which said Pell was too ill to fly.

The commission waited until February to see if Pell’s condition would improve enough for him to make the trip, but after Pell’s lawyers again tendered medical documents saying he was too ill, the commission chair, Justice Peter McClellan, agreed to allow Pell to give his evidence from Rome.
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It prompted a very public campaign led by child sexual abuse survivors and their supporters to raise money to send victims of the church to Rome to witness Pell give his evidence. The campaign has raised almost $200,000.

Child sexual abuse victims have been waiting to hear Pell answer questions about the way the archdiocese of Melbourne responded to allegations of child sexual abuse, and about his alleged role in moving a paedophile priest in Ballarat between parishes while he was an assistant priest at Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983, a period when several Catholic priests sexually assaulted young boys.

A survivor of abuse, David Risdale, also alleged while giving evidence last year that Pell encouraged him to keep quiet about the abuse he had endured.

Cardinal Pell’s media director in Australia, Katrina Lee, told Sky News that she had contacted the cardinal in Rome and alerted him to the allegations.

“He decided he would issue a very strong statement saying that they were false, they are anonymous and he has called for an inquiry as to how they actually were leaked,” she said.

Police had not spoken to the cardinal, she said.

“His words to me were ‘isn’t that interesting timing’,” she said.

“He is very aware that Ballarat starts on Monday and he is aware that he is appearing the following week.”

Pell’s office has issued a statement denying the allegations.
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The latest news comes as the church has faced a new wave of scrutiny for its handling of sex abuse cases and hits one of the most senior Vatican officials in Rome.

Cardinal Pell is seen within the Vatican as a key promoter of Pope Francis’s reform agenda, particularly on issues of financial transparency and the Vatican bank. In this regard, the staunchly conservative cardinal is an ally of the pope, even if the two are seen as being on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum.

Francis has traditionally viewed unsubstantiated accusations of sexual abuse with deep scepticism and even scorn, and has vigorously defended at least one senior cleric – Bishop Juan Barros of Chile – despite accusations that Barros helped cover up for a notorious paedophile priest in Chile. Those allegations have been denied and people who study the pope see his defense of Barros – he called Barros’s accusers “dumb” and “leftists” – as an indication that he will only act on accusations of wrongdoing once they have been proven in a civil or Vatican court.

The reaction inside the Vatican to the news was muted. One person close to the church said there was a view that Pell had long been a targeted figure in Australia, and that the report was just the latest in a series of attempts to put pressure on Pell, especially given the fact that he is due to testify soon.

The church was forced on the defensive last week following reports it allowed a controversial French monsignor to instruct newly-appointed bishops that they did not necessarily have to report accusations of sexual abuse to civil authorities if they were not mandated to do so under the law.

Peter Saunders, an outspoken critic of both the church’s handling of sexual abuse and Cardinal Pell, was recently forced to take a leave of absence from a Vatican committee that was established in 2014 to handle the church’s approach on sexual abuse.

Last year, Pell threatened to take legal action against Saunders after the abuse survivor said the cardinal lacked compassion for abuse victims and was almost a “sociopath”.

Francis on Thursday weighed in on the controversy over the church’s teachings on abuse when he said in a press conference that any bishop who transfers a priest after a case of paedophilia is discovered “is an unconscious man” and that “the best thing he can do is to present his resignation”.

Statement from the office of Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence to the royal commission in just over one week.

The timing of these leaks is clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church and undermines the work of the royal commission.

The allegations are without foundation and utterly false.

It is outrageous that these allegations have been brought to the Cardinal’s attention through a media leak. These undetailed allegations have not been raised with the Cardinal by the police and the false claims investigated by Justice Southwell have been ignored by the police for over 15 years, despite the very transparent way they were dealt with by the Cardinal and the Catholic church.

The Cardinal has called for a public inquiry into the leaking of these spurious claims by elements in the Victorian Police in a manner clearly designed to embarrass the Cardinal, in a case study where the historical failures of the Victorian Police have been the subject of substantial evidence. These types of unfair attacks diminish the work of those good officers of the police who are diligently working to bring justice to victims.

The Phillip Island allegations have been on the public record for nearly 15 years. The Southwell Report which exonerated Cardinal Pell has been in the public domain since 2002.

The Victorian police have taken no steps in all of that time to pursue the false allegations made, however the Cardinal certainly has no objection to them reviewing the materials that led Justice Southwell to exonerate him. The Cardinal is certain that the police will quickly reach the conclusion that the allegations are false.

The Victorian Police have never sought to interview him in relation to any allegations of child sexual abuse and apart from the false allegations investigated by Justice Southwell, the Cardinal knows of no claims or incidents which relate to him.

He strongly denies any wrongdoing. If the police wish to question him he will co-operate, as he has with each and every public inquiry.

In the meantime, the Cardinal understands that several media outlets have received confidential information leaked by someone within the Victorian Police. For elements of the police to publicly attack a witness in the same case study that has exposed serious police inaction and wrongdoing is outrageous and should be seen for what it is.

Given the serious nature of this conduct, the Cardinal has called for a public inquiry to be conducted in relation to the actions of those elements of the Victorian Police who are undermining the royal commission’s work.

The Cardinal calls on the premier and the police minister to immediately investigate the leaking of these baseless allegations.

Do you have any information about this story? Please contact melissa.davey@theguardian.com and stephanie.kirchgaessner@theguardian.com.

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