Why the complainant in Cardinal Pell’s trial was so compelling
ABC journalist Louise Milligan does not know what she is talking about. She says the accuser is highly believable ("compelling"). But there are two reasons why he might be believable but not truthful
1). He could be a paranoid schizophrenic. Many paranoids seem perfectly normal except for the focus of their delusion. And they can sound very reasonable about their delusion. Psychiatric nurses sometimes remark that some of their patients make more sense than a lot of people "outside". And religion is often the focus of schizophrenia. Older Brisbane people might remember soapbox orator Ted Wixted (1927-2001) and his arguments against the Virgin Birth. Ted had a good day job as a museum curator but did admit that angels appeared to him.
2). He could be a fantasist. Fantasists too can be very believable. One of the world's most cynical bodies of men would have to be the London Metropolitan Police. And yet they believed the child sex allegations of "Nick" for months -- until nothing in his story worked out. And some innocent men were ruined in the process.
"Nick" (Carl Beech)
Fantasists often continue to believe in the reality of their fantasy even when shown it cannot be true. Nick is at the moment being prosecuted for his lies but he still entered a firm "Not Guilty" at the beginning of his trial
An ABC journalist would be very easy to fool by either type of liar. If they can swallow global warming and the "patriarchy" they could swallow anything.
Many people can’t believe Cardinal George Pell is guilty of child sex offences but it was this key piece of evidence that sealed his fate.
Cardinal George Pell, a man who rose to become, not just Australia’s most senior Catholic, but one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, had been found to be a paedophile.
When the news broke yesterday that Pell was found guilty in December of child sex offences, many expressed disbelief but others just couldn’t accept the verdict.
In an opinion piece, Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt said he believed Pell had been “falsely convicted”. The Daily Telegraphcolumnist Miranda Devine also said: “I don’t believe that Pell, who I know slightly and admire greatly, could be guilty of assaulting two choirboys in a busy cathedral.”
Yesterday, the 77-year-old disgraced cardinal was taken into custody and spent his first night behind bars before being sentenced on March 13. However, his legal team is pushing for a retrial and intend to appeal his child sex convictions with the Court of Appeal.
Speaking on his Sky News show on Tuesday night, Bolt said he had “serious misgivings” about Pell’s guilty verdict. “I just can’t accept it, based on what I consider is the overwhelming evidence of this trial,” he said. “And I base that opinion also on how many times Pell has been accused of crimes and sins he clearly did not do.
“Pell could well be an innocent man who is being made to pay for the sins of his church and made to pay after an astonishing campaign of media vilification.”
ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan is one of the few people in Australia who knows the identity of Pell’s complainant. She tracked him down while researching her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, for which she won a Walkley Book Award.
She acknowledged on 7.30 on Tuesday night there had been a “lot of doubters” about the case but something she’s always said to people through the years was: “I defy anyone to meet this man and not think that he is telling the truth.
“He has absolutely nothing to gain from this and everything to lose.”
In her book Milligan calls Pell’s complainant The Kid and described him as an ideal witness from a police point of view.
“The Kid has not led a chequered life,” Milligan notes in her book. “He’s university-educated, he hasn’t had trouble with the law. He has a lovely young girlfriend, lots of friends, he’s a pillar of his community in a sort of understated, slightly ironic way, and in that part of his life, he is, he told me, very happy.
“He’s managed, just, to keep it together. He’s been able to compartmentalise. He’s the sort of complainant you’d want as a Victoria Police detective alleging historic crime.”
Both Bolt and Devine have pointed to the improbability of the scenario put forward in court.
The two boys were abused by Pell after he found them in the sacristy, a room used by priests to get dressed, where they were swigging sacramental wine after a Sunday Mass.
Both Bolt and Devine point out the attack is meant to have happened after Mass, when Pell would usually have spent time speaking to worshippers and that it happened in the sacristy, which is a busy room that someone could have walked into.
They also note Pell was normally accompanied everywhere he went by the master of ceremonies, Monsignor Charles Portelli. Their views echo an article written by Father Frank Brennan who also pointed out his concerns with some of the evidence presented.
“Anyone familiar with the conduct of a solemn Cathedral Mass with full choir would find it most unlikely that a bishop would, without grave reason, leave a recessional procession and retreat to the sacristy unaccompanied,” he wrote in Eureka Street.
He also noted that the priest’s garments could not have been pushed aside in the way described and it was “impossible to produce an erect penis through a seamless alb”.
“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.”
Father Brenann said the idea that the offences were committed right after Mass by a fully robbed archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view of the corridor “seemed incredible to my mind”.
The public have not been allowed to see the complainant’s testimony but it was the key piece of evidence that decided the case.
The complainant did not appear in person at the trial but footage of his testimony and cross-examination from an earlier trial, which resulted in a hung jury, was shown instead.
“Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him,” Father Brennan acknowledged in his article.