New Evidence in Church Abuse Case

By Connor Duffy
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

July 8, 2008

Last night Lateline aired evidence that Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell misrepresented the truth when he responded to a man who complained he'd been abused by a priest. Tonight we reveal new evidence that church investigators - and through them, the Archbishop - were later told by the same priest that he had assaulted another victim: a 16-year-old girl. We also raise a series of new questions, including why George Pell gave weight to the abusive priest's word that his attack on Anthony Jones was, in fact, consensual.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Last night Lateline revealed the case of Anthony Jones, a former religious education teacher and his evidence that Cardinal George Pell misrepresented the truth when he responded to Mr Jones' complaint of sexual assault by a priest.

Today cardinal George Pell admitted he'd made a mistake when he wrote a letter to Mr Jones falsely telling him his was the only complaint against the priest and that the church investigation said his complaint of sex assault shouldn't be upheld.

Tonight we reveal new documents from the case that show that the church investigators and, through them, the Archbishop were later told by the same priest that he'd assaulted another victim: a 16 year old girl. She has never been identified.

We also raise a series of new questions, including why George Pell gave weight to the abusive priest's word, that his attack on Anthony Jones was in fact consensual.

Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer produced this report.

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: Last night Anthony Jones told Lateline how he was sexually assaulted by a Sydney priest, Father Terence Goodall.

Letters and a report published by Lateline show that Archbishop George Pell subsequently misrepresented the findings of the church's own investigation into that attack.

Anthony Jones says Cardinal Pell's actions destroyed the faith that had been the bedrock of his life.

ANTHONY JONES, ABUSE VICTIM: It affected me the same way as Father Goodall sexually assaulting me. Cardinal Pell assaulted me by his words all over again.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell was forced to put aside last minute preparations for World Youth Day to respond to the serious questions over his handling of the case.

Among them, why he wrote to Anthony Jones saying:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): No other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall.

CONOR DUFFY: When he knew there had been, and in fact had written to another of Father Goodall's victims accepting his allegation on the same day he wrote to Mr Jones.

All just a poor choice of words according to Cardinal Pell.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: The letter to Mr Jones was badly worded and a mistake.

CONOR DUFFY: Cardinal says his description of the type of crime in the letter caused the confusion. When the Anthony Jones matter was investigated, church investigator Howard Murray recommended to Cardinal Pell that the allegations raised by Anthony Jones be sustained.

However when Cardinal Pell wrote to Jones he claimed:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of attempted aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to have been substantiated.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell said that too was an innocent mistake, not a fabrication.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: No that is an overstatement I acknowledge that.

REPORTER: Is it an overstatement or is it just not true and made up?

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: No because I accepted the basic conclusions of Murray, that the charges were substantiated.

REPORTER: Why did you say then Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to be substantiated when Murray said nothing of the sort.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: Because I'd come to that conclusion after advice and considering the matter and also confirming that all along Goodall insisted that it was consensual, and he confirmed that to me.

REPORTER: But why did you contribute that to Mr Murray...

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: That was an overstatement. That was an innocent error.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell acknowledged that Howard Murray sustained all of Anthony Jones' allegations.

Lateline has obtained another letter sent by George Pell to Anthony Jones in May 2003.

In that letter Cardinal Pell once again contradicts the findings of the Murray investigation. He wrote:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): What cannot be determined by me, however, is whether it was a matter of sexual assault as you state, or homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults as maintained by Father Goodall. In the end it is a matter of your word against his.

CONOR DUFFY: But the report to George Pell had only given the issue of consent passing mention.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): He [Father Goodall] agreed generally with Tony's account of the post-swim events at the presbytery although he maintained the move to the bed whilst both men were naked was more consensual than forced upon Tony.

CONOR DUFFY: Ultimately Father Goodall would admit to the non-consensual nature of the pool incident and plead guilty in the district court to indecent assault.

Cardinal Pell's acceptance of Father Goodall's excuse that the incident was consensual infuriated the victim.

ANTHONY JONES: By saying that it was consensual and that there were no other complaints is an absolute disgrace. And I believe that Cardinal Pell should not be Cardinal Pell.

CONOR DUFFY: That Cardinal Pell erred in giving equal weight to the word of Father Goodall and that of his victim, was made clear subsequently when the church investigator sent the Archbishop a report that was scathing about Father Goodall's character.

It found Father Goodall was a serial offender and an ongoing risk.

HOWARD MURRAY, CHURCH INVESTIGATOR (Voiceover): I was struck by the recurring themes of defensiveness, lack of victim empathy and lack of reasonable insight.

CONOR DUFFY: The report also sketches a career long history of problems involving Goodall. And critically finds he committed another offence against another child. In this case a 16 year old girl.

HOWARD MURRAY (Voiceover): I am aware that he has offended against a 10/11 year old male, a 16 year old female, and that he has made admissions to fondling a young adult male without his consent.

Also he has admitted to the following incidents: namely, propositioning two male seminary students when he was attached to the manly theological faculty, inviting a group of alter boys to strip naked whilst swimming, inviting an adult male to stay over at his parish presbytery, and of having a consensual sexual experience with an adult male.

PAUL COLLINS, AUTHOR AND FORMER PRIEST: To me there's a kind of lurking question here, the abuse of the altar boy for instance that he mentions in his letter.

I mean did he report that to the police? This is kind of, this is the essence of the story it seems to me.

PROFESSOR MARK FINDLAY, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY: Well I think it reveals that this church, like other churches, start off from a position which is how can we minimise fire damage.

And perhaps as other churches have found, and the Catholic Church has found, the real consideration is how do we restore public confidence and how do we put forward a positive approach to considerations that relate to sexual abuse

CONOR DUFFY: Late tonight the church told Lateline that it had informed police about the assault on the 11 year old altar boy.

And the church said it only became aware of the offence against the 16 year old girl when father Goodall admitted to it in June 2003.

The church says the priest did not disclose the name of the girl, she's never been identified.

So far George Pell says he hasn't informed the Vatican of the controversy. Paul Collins says he won't have to.

PAUL COLLINS: I'm sure they would be aware of what's happening and I'm sure they would be looking at it carefully.

CONOR DUFFY: Cardinal Pell today apologised to Anthony Jones and suggested that should be the end of the matter.

REPORTER: Not a very good opener for the World Youth Day is it?

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: Please God we'll be over this before the World Youth Day.

CONOR DUFFY: That's just seven days away


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