As you probably now know, Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to 6 years in jail . He will be eligible for parole in 3 years and 8 months.
Yesterday I watched the judge deliver his reasons for sentence. Some of his comments disturbed me, not as they related to Pell in particular, but more as they relate to comments made by various judges regarding clerical sexual molesters in general. Some of it sounded so sadly and distressingly familiar.
I set out to find the transcript of the judge’s statement.
13 March 2019: “Reasons for Sentence” (Cardinal Pell conviction)
So,I read through the comments. Yes, all too familiar.
I will make a few comments, but first I must make clear to those of you who are emailing me that at this moment in time Cardinal George Pell is a convicted clerical molester. A jury found him guilty. He is currently serving time in jail.
Yes, he is appealing his sentence, but that does not for a moment negate the fact that he has been convicted, does it?
Before making a few comments on the judge’s reasons for sentence I would like those who those who defend the Cardinal to the hilt to take a look at the the case of Father Michael Mullins, an Ottawa, Ontario priest who was acquitted in 1990 on charges of sexual assault of a teenage boy.
Mullins, an Irish-born priest, was viewed by many Roman Catholics in the Ottawa Archdiocese as a pillar of orthodoxy.
When charges were laid against Mullins the victim was ridiculed, vilified and denigrated beyond measure. Word spread that the complainant was lying through his teeth, and that poor dear Father Mullins was suffering like Christ on the Cross.
I am serious.
Unfortunately at that time in my life attending trials of clergy accused of sexual abuse or assault was not on my radar. But I do remember the talk and media coverage. And I remember well the rejoicing that Father Mullins was vindicated, and the sneers about the skateboarder, and who could ever believe a skateboarder.
In shot order Father Mullins was off to Ireland for a little R & R. And in equally short order Father Mullins was in jail – in Ireland – for beating the living daylights out of a young lad who rebuffed his sexual advances. He was sentenced to 8 years.
Several years later I was contacted by Scott, the skateboarder. We spoke at length. I asked if he would agree to let me write an article. He did.
The article is short, but hopefully it gives a little bit of an idea of the agony Scott went through, what the private investigators did to him, and the apology he eventually received from the judge who ridiculed him while acquitting his molester.
Here is what I wrote in 2011:
I have had several conversations with Scott over the years. Keep him in your prayers. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few years ago. His wife died fairly recently. Life has not been ‘kind’ to him. Sadly, those who circled the wagons to protect Father Michael Mullins were particularly unkind, particular many of the ‘good’ faithful Catholics who swore by Father Mullins’ innocence while literally spitting in the face of the skateboarder .
My point here is that I have learned over the years that the debauchery which accompanies child sexual abuse does not restrict itself itself to those clergy who are deemed to be ‘liberal’ or heterodox.
Finally, before getting on to the Reasons for Sentence, a reminder of a comment I posted a few days ago about a woman who contacted me a few years ago . Her parish priest had been charged. She became part of very active and vocal group of Roman Catholics defending “Father”: they picketed, they talked to the media, and they denigrated the victim. Later this Mom learned to her great horror that the “good” Father whom she had so vocally defended had been sexually abusing her own son. Her grief knew no bounds, exacerbated in no small part by the fact that she had been party to actively and publicly defending “Father” by equally actively and publicly denigrating a victim.
Sadly, things are not always what they seem. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is just that: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
As it stand at this point in time, Cardinal Pell has been convicted. Yes, he is going to appeal. Whether the appeal will or will not be heard remains to be seen. For now, he is jail, and he in in jail because he was convicted.
So, on that note, here are a few extracts from the judge’s reasons for sentence which bothered me when I heard them yesterday. I have added a few comments.
All I can say is that it’s lucky for the clerical molesters of the world that I am not a judge
Extracts with comments
17. I must at law give full effect to the jury’s verdict. It is not for me to second guess the verdict. What this means is that I am required to accept, and act upon, J’s account. That is what the law requires of me and that is what I will do.
46. I am mindful of the authorities which recognise that sexual activity with children is presumed to cause longterm and serious harm, both physical and psychological to the child.
“Sexual activity with children”?
First, perhaps a misunderstanding on my part, but I believe it is a given that the sexual abuse of children causes “longterm and serious” harm to the molested children, “both physical and psychological”. I would add that when the abuse of a Roman Catholic child transpires at the hand of a Roman Catholic priest the longterm ‘harm” includes spiritual harm.
Now, back to these words: “sexual activity with children.”
What is the judge talking about here? Is he actually talking about an adult sexually abusing/molesting a child? If that’s the case, why does he not say so?
63. In relation to charge 1, which is the indecent act against R has,in my view,a nasty element to it -holding him by the head, whilst placing your penis in close proximity to R’s head. While there was no sexual physical contact, the conduct here must have been particularly confronting and debasing. Judging by R’s reaction,it clearly was so.
Note: “While there was no sexual physical contact, the conduct here must have been particularly confronting and debasing. Judging by R’s reaction,it clearly was so.”
Really? “the conduct here must have been particularly confronting and debasing.”
“Must have been”? Of course it was. We don’t need to judge R’s reaction to know that a 13-year-old Catholic boy would be mortified to have his head was pushed down alongside the penis of a bishop or priest, – and in fact pushed down there by the offending priest or bishop.
105: You maintain your innocence in relation to this offending,which is your right, but as consequence there is no evidence of your remorse or contrition for me to act upon to reduce your sentence
111. Evidence of an offender’s otherwise good character is a factor that the sentencing judge is bound to consider.
113. Since this offending, you have not committed other offences.
115. In addition to not having any prior convictions, I am satisfied that the evidence before me is that you are someone who has been, in the last 22 years since the offending, of otherwise good character.
So, there is no evidence or remorse. There is no remorse from a Cardinal who as been convicted of sexually abusing two young boys twenty odd years ago. None. But then it’s on and on about Cardinal Pell’s “good character.” Is it not a bit of an oxymoron to claim good character for a convicted molester who shows no sign of remorse?
Further to that, in this instance, how pray tell does the judge know that Cardinal Pell has not committed other offences? How, for example, does he know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Cardinal Pell has not sexually violated other young boys in Australia, and or Rome, and or other countries? Would it not therefore be more accuarte and truthful to say something along the lines of: “since this offending, there are no further offences known to have been committed by you?”
117. I make substantial allowance for your good character and otherwise blameless life
Otherwise blameless life?!!!
122. …Facing jail at your age, in these circumstances, must be an awful state of affairs for you.
I am sure it is. It’s an awful state of affairs for every clerical sexual predator who is caught and then convicted in a court of law
129. The lapse of time since of the commission of offences of this kind is, however, not unusual. It is often the case with offending such as yours that the victims do not come forward for many years after the offending.
That is very true. In fact, as the judge no doubt knows, it is more the norm that victims of clerical sexual abuse do not come forward for decades after the abuse.
130. That said, the delay in this case does have some consequences.As I have already observed you fall now to be sentenced to a not insubstantial term of imprisonment as a 77 year old man and I have already touched on what follows from this.
131. But the delay also means that you have been able to demonstrate the capacity to lead an otherwise blameless life in the 22 years since this offending, which, as I said I will,I take into account has I said I will.
Too too much!
It seems to me that the fact that any clerical sexual predator who reaches the age of 77 before answering for his perversion, sins and crimes has proven how very adept he is at both deceiving the faithful and living a lie.
134. The prosecution has submitted that, as you have shown no remorse or insight into your offending, there remains no explanation for your offending and the underlying causes cannot be addressed. The prosecution contends,therefore,that there remains a risk of re-offending, albeit a limited one.
135. I do not accept that submission
There are cases of clerical sexual predators offending in their 80s. I know there are some on Sylvia’s Site. I am not about to look them up right now, but, they exist.
136. The lengthy period without offending since these matters supports my conclusion that you have effectively reformed.
There he goes again! Please give us proof Your Honour that in the past 22 years Cardinal Pell has not laid a wayward hand on a single child in Australia, Rome, the Vatican, Italy or anywhere else.
143. It was also submitted that you have had to endure the stress of having to plan and work with your defence team on rebutting many charges that did not ultimately proceed to trial, and that you have lived under that additional stress for a number of years.
144. It was also submitted that you have had to endure protests and verbal abuse whenever you were seen arriving or departing from court, at least during your preliminary court appearances; and that you have been publicly pilloried, both in the media, and through the publication of a particular book.
Is this not going a little over the ‘poor convicted molester’ edge?
201. The prosecution made an application to obtain a forensic sample from you. You counsel indicated that you consented to this forensic sample order being made. I therefore grant the prosecution application.
202. I direct that you undergo a forensic procedure for the taking of an intimate sample. I am further required to tell you that police officers may use reasonable force to enable the procedure to be conducted to obtain a sample from you.
What can I say? The Cardinal presumably agreed. It may be a terribly silly question, but I can not conceive how an “intimate sample” can be obtained by police officers by use of “reasonable force.” (Please don’t tell me. I really don’t want to know)
218. In your case this complexity is exemplified by the fact that on the one hand I must punish and denounce you for this appalling offending; yet, on the other hand, I am conscious of the heavy reality that I am about to sentence you, a man of advanced years, who has led an otherwise blameless life, …
And there he goes again “an otherwise blameless life”
Yes, a Cardinal convicted by jury is going to jail for six years. In fact, Cardinal Pell is behind bars right now. He has started serving his sentence.
Six years. I truly don’t believe six years is suffice, but then again, I also believe that the sexual violation of a child is one of the most heinous crimes on the face of the earth. Six years doesn’t come close. But, six years is, I suppose, better than one year?
That’s where we’re at until such time as parliamentarians and the judiciary decide to treat child sexual abuse as a heinous act of such magnitude that the safety, protection and well-being of children comes before stroking an trying to soothe the ruffled feathers of molesters.
Things are changing. Slowly in Canada. But, they are changing. We must for now accept the crumbs which fall under the table
And that’s where we’re at until such time as Church officials start thinking more in terms of millstones, souls and salvation rather than dollars and cents, and start talking more to God than they do to their lawyers, and get busy purging the priesthood of every single priest who is a known molester.
A final note. I firmly believe that those who file false sex abuse charges should be charged.
Enough for now,