AUSTRALIA’S most senior Catholic has been called a “bully” and described as “strict” by a witness as he returned to court today.
A WITNESS has described Cardinal George Pell as a “bully” but says he never saw Australia’s highest-ranked Catholic assault anyone.
Pell, 76, returned to Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday for a committal hearing that will determine if he stands trial over multiple historical sex offences involving multiple complainants.
The court has not released details of the charges.
Defence barrister Robert Richter QC cross examined a former choir member who made a statement to police in 2017 saying he “had no love” for Pell. “You say ‘I have no love for the man … he was a bully’,” defence barrister Robert Richter QC read from the statement.
“That’s right,” the man said.
The lawyer added the witness described Pell as “strict and straight down the line” in a signed statement to police on June 8, 2017.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Pell acted differently to his colleague Father Charles Portelli, who gave evidence on Tuesday.
“He (Portelli) set a standard that was hard to live up to,” the man said. “He was welcoming.” When asked if Pell was “stern and remote”, the witness agreed.
“That’s right, it was a very cold change,” he told the court. But the witness said he did not see anything criminal during his interactions with Pell.
“You yourself never perceived anything that would allow you to conclude he had assaulted anyone?” Mr Richter asked.
“I did not,” the man replied.
Earlier on Wednesday, the defence said they needed help from ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan to decipher notes she had made about Pell’s accusers. Mr Richter said his team could not understand the subpoenaed shorthand notes they received from the journalist, and asked magistrate Belinda Wallington to intervene.
“What we wanted is to recruit Your Honour’s status in mentioning to a Walkley Award winner … that it would assist the court enormously in not wasting the time of dozens of people,” Mr Richter said.
“Given that these notes have been filed under subpoena and unreadable, I would just ask Ms Milligan just read them onto a tape,” Ms Wallington said. Ms Milligan is scheduled to give evidence next week.
The pre-trial hearing will resume on Thursday.
Cardinal George Pell committal: ABC journalist Louise Milligan ordered to transcribe notes for court
ABC News Australia
21 March 2018
ABC journalist Louise Milligan has been ordered to transcribe shorthand notes of conversations she had with Cardinal George Pell’s alleged victims after his defence barrister claimed they were “unreadable”.
The award-winning journalist is due to give evidence at Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court next Monday.
Cardinal Pell, 76, is fighting historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants.
No other details of the charges can be reported for legal reasons.
Milligan is expected to be cross-examined on the contents of her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, as well as her report for 7.30 which detailed allegations made against the Cardinal.
Defence barrister Robert Richter, QC, asked Magistrate Belinda Wallington to use her “status” to have Milligan transcribe 100 pages of shorthand notes which were undecipherable.
Photo: Louise Milligan has been ordered to transcribe her notes before she gives evidence. (News Video)
He said they had already contacted Milligan’s legal adviser, Jack Rush, QC, to urge her to dictate the notes but were told “she was too busy”.
Mr Richter said his only other option would be asking the journalist to dictate the notes line-by-line in court.
“It’s a question of whether it’s just her time or the time of a lot of people involved in this litigation,” he told the court.
“It’s not in the interests of the administration of justice and we hope that she would have the administration of justice in mind, not just that she’s written a book that she would like purchased.”
Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC agreed it would save the court’s time if a transcript could be provided.
Magistrate Wallington said it was usual practice for notes to be provided in a “decipherable form” and asked that Milligan supply them before Monday.
Ms Milligan has since posted on Twitter that she spent a lot of time responding to the court order to supply certain documents.
“I wish it to be known that I have taken weeks and weeks of my own time complying with the court subpoena,” she posted.
“But I have not, at any time, given any material which would identify a confidential source to the defence or court.”
Also on Wednesday, two brothers who lived in country Victoria in the 1970s gave evidence about Cardinal Pell’s behaviour at a local swimming pool.
They both said the then-Father Pell would play a game with some of the children where they would put their feet into hands, which were clasped together in a stirrup, allowing him to launch them into the water.
They separately told the court that no-one had ever told them that Cardinal Pell had acted inappropriately and the children had initiated the game.
Another two witnesses gave evidence about their time as members of a choir which performed during mass at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s.
One told the court he had never seen then-Archbishop Pell alone with any members of the choir.
Another said Cardinal Pell always behaved in a fairly formal manner.
The hearing is expected to conclude next week when the magistrate will rule on whether there is enough evidence to commit Cardinal Pell to stand trial.
An ABC journalist who wrote a book on George Pell has been ordered by a magistrate to re-submit more than a hundred pages of shorthand notes containing details of sexual offences allegedly committed by the cardinal to his lawyers.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that a significant portion of investigative journalist Louise Milligan’s notes relating to her book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, were ‘‘unreadable’’, with the cardinal’s lawyers requesting a court order that she read out and record her notes before she gives evidence on Monday.
Cardinal Pell, 76, faces multiple historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants. He is facing a hearing to determine whether he stands trial. Details of the charges are yet to be revealed. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Cardinal Pell’s barrister Robert Richter, QC, requested Ms Milligan read her notes into a dictaphone while one of his team transcribed them for her.
‘‘They’re in shorthand, they cover a lot of territory, but they are in her own style of shorthand … they’re unreadable,’’ he said.
Mr Richter said Ms Milligan’s lawyers told his team ‘‘she was too busy and didn’t have the time’’ to re-submit the notes by Monday, but he argued it would be ‘‘highly undesirable and time consuming’’ for her to read the notes out as she is cross-examined.
‘‘She should be told that the time will be taken because it has to be taken in fairness to the accused,’’ Mr Richter said.
Ms Milligan handed over research notes for the book and background material used to prepare TV reports for the national broadcaster to Cardinal Pell’s lawyers in January as they prepared his defence to historical sexual assault charges.
The names of confidential sources were redacted to protect their identity.
Ms Milligan is expected to be grilled on the contents of the notes by Cardinal Pell’s lawyers next week.
Her book was pulled from the shelves of Victorian booksellers before the hearing began.
The request was supported by prosecutors and Magistrate Belinda Wallington.
Seven witnesses gave evidence at the hearing on Wednesday, including five former St Patrick’s Cathedral choir members.
David Mayes, who was part of the choir during the late 1990s, told the court he recalled the then-Archbishop storming into a choir room and on one occasion yelling at members.
In his police statement that was read to the court Mr Mayes said: “I have no love for the man … he was a bully.”
Earlier this week, one priest spoke about the cardinal’s time at St Patrick’s Cathedral and said the then-archbishop was never alone when he was there to give Sunday Mass.
On Wednesday, Mr Mayes said he saw Cardinal Pell enter one of the rehearsal rooms alone while choir members were there on a few occasions.
He said, however, that he never saw the cardinal do anything untoward.
Another former choir member, Andrew LaGreca, told the court there were some occasions when not all choir members were accounted for after performing at Sunday Mass, particularly after large celebratory Masses.
“Well, it really depends on the occasion,” he told the court.
“Sometimes the choir master would be busy speaking to the congregation … other times he would be there speaking to everyone [after the mass] before he would come and release us.”
A third witness, who had performed during Mass at the cathedral, told the court that he had never seen the then-archbishop alone with any members of the choir.
Charles Portelli, who was the then-archbishop’s staffer and master of ceremonies, told the court the cardinal was always accompanied by a staff member when he robed and disrobed in the priest’s room.
“It was impossible for him to be alone on a Sunday mass, it was simply impossible,” he told the court. ‘”I was always standing near him.”
The hearing continues.