Furious George Pell demands Victoria Police investigation as ABC airs abuse claims
By Latika Bourke
Sydney Morning Herald
July 27, 2016
|Cardinal George Pell has strongly rejected the allegations against him. |
Photo by Marco Di Lauro
London: A furious Cardinal George Pell has demanded an inquiry into the Victorian Police, accusing "elements" of the force of "conspiring" with the ABC to pervert the course of justice, relating to allegations of child sexual abuse, which he emphatically denies.
Speaking from Rome where he is based at the Vatican, Cardinal Pell said he refused to be put to a "trial by media" and said the ABC had "no licence" to destroy his reputation.
Cardinal Pell said since the allegations were first aired nearly six months ago, police had not sought to interview him.
"These disclosures and consequent publicity by the ABC clearly are apt and calculated deliberately to influence and compromise relevant judicial and prosecutorial processes," his office said. Victoria Police said it would not be providing any further comment.
The ABC's 730 program on Wednesday night aired a "special report" citing Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton confirming a year-long investigation into Cardinal Pell, relating to "multiple allegations" of sexual abuse.
The allegations were first published by News Corp's Herald Sun nearly six months ago.
That report in February said the Victorian Police Sano Taskforce had been investigating Cardinal Pell for more than a year over allegations he sexually abused between five and 10 boys.
The ABC added to the report saying it understood a file had been sent to the Office of Public Prosecutions "for advice."
The report also contained detailed allegations made by former St Alipus students Lyndon Monument, Darren Mooney and Damian Dignan, who alleged Cardinal Pell would play with them in the swimming pool and molest them by touching their genitals under water.
"He'd throw us off his shoulders ... he would grab you from - have his hands on your backside and then he'd push you off," Mr Mooney said.
Mr Monument described the abuse as: "his hand touching your genitals and stuff on the outside of your bathers or shorts. And then that slowly became hand down the front of the pants or your bathers or whatever you call them."
"[He would] grab you ... around the testes, around the anus ... very forceful around the anus," Mr Dignan told the program.
It seems there has been leaking of information and allegations by elements of the Victorian Police to the ABC.
Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal Pell's office issued a furious statement and said he refuted all the allegations aired by the program.
"The ABC has no licence to destroy the reputation of innocent people and Cardinal Pell, like all those who have allegations against them that have not been tested by the Courts, is entitled to the presumption of innocence - not immediate condemnation," the statement said.
But his anger was not just reserved for the media.
"It seems there has been leaking of information and allegations by elements of the Victorian Police to the ABC," the statement said.
"This is consistent with previous patterns of improper and illegal disclosure of information from such sources to a variety of media outlets. Such information has in the past repeatedly been demonstrated to be inaccurate and unfounded.
"In a context where police themselves have suggested, accurately or otherwise, that the making of charges is under review by relevant authorities, these disclosures and consequent publicity by the ABC clearly are apt and calculated deliberately to influence and compromise relevant judicial and prosecutorial processes.
"The Cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC program amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Cardinal has cooperated in the past and will continue to cooperate through the proper and appropriate civil authorities.
"I bear no ill will and have no desire to cause them harm but what they say about me is not true.
"I have done nothing wrong."