Church officials deny George Pell claims of sex abuse cover-up

By Dan Box
April 12, 2016

Cardinal George Pell’s claims to have been deceived by Catholic officials over pedophile abuse in the church have been rebutted in new evidence to the sex abuse royal commission.

The inquiry today will hold a public hearing to decide how to deal with new material in witness statements from four former Catholic Education Office staff.

The commission sought the statements after Cardinal Pell, now a senior Vatican official, testified last month, ­accusing the office of keeping from him reports of violent and sexual misconduct by the late Peter Searson. Searson sexually abused children, threatened parishioners with a gun and is alleged to have stabbed a bird to death with a screwdriver, the inquiry heard.

Cardinal Pell told the commission he had been “deceived” by the CEO, which did not ­“adequately brief” him about Searson and “told me there was insufficient evidence to remove him” during the late 1980s and early 90s. Dr Pell then was an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne, overseeing Searson’s Doveton parish in the city’s east.

The Australian understands the former head of the office, Thomas Doyle, has given evidence denying his staff intended to deceive Cardinal Pell, ­although he may not have been given all relevant information.


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