Pell Considers New Goodall Investigation

The Age

July 9, 2008

Cardinal George Pell will consider reopening a church investigation of convicted priest Father Terrence Goodall, after phone taps recorded him saying a sexual encounter with an abuse victim was not consensual, as he first claimed.

Cardinal George Pell dismissed a sex abuse complaint against Goodall because he gave weight to the priest's claim the encounter was consensual.

The ABC revealed on Tuesday night that Cardinal Pell dismissed Anthony Jones' complaint because he gave more weight to Father Goodall's side of the story, despite Mr Jones protestations to the contrary.

However, in police phone taps to be played on ABC Lateline on Wednesday night, Father Goodall is recorded admitting to Mr Jones that the encounter was not consensual.

Speaking to Jones after being interviewed by the church's investigator Howard Murray in January 2003, he says "I certainly did not say it was consensual, I don't know where they got that from."

Asked if Goodall's admission warranted a reopening of the case, Dr Pell said he would "certainly take legal advice".

"Those statements of Goodall put my decision in quite a different light," he told ABC's 7.30 Report.

"I would certainly take legal advice. I've always said I would be happy to talk with Jones. And if this new information is verified I'd certainly talk to him on a new basis.

"If both parties say it wasn't consensual then there is just one conclusion."

Mr Jones, a former Catholic educator, was sexually abused by Father Goodall in 1982 and informed the church about it 20 years later.

Since then, Mr Jones, 54, has suffered two mental breakdowns and has been on a disability pension since 2000.

In 2005, Father Goodall was convicted of indecently assaulting Mr Jones after pleading guilty to the charges, but served no time in prison.

Asked why he had placed so much faith in Father Goodall's claims, Cardinal Pell said Mr Jones' evidence was uncorroborated.

"Because the evidence was uncorroborated, because of the whole circumstances leading up to - there was a candlelight dinner, they swum together, they were sitting on the bed together," he said.

"It was because of the circumstances as explained that I took that view, and I believe it has been vindicated by subsequent events."

Cardinal Pell has become embroiled in the Goodall sex abuse scandal just days before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the country for World Youth Day.

Letters obtained by the ABC and aired on Monday showed Cardinal Pell told Mr Jones that his complaint could not be upheld because the church was not aware of any other complaints against the priest.

But another letter showed Cardinal Pell was aware of a second allegation of sexual abuse against Father Goodall.

It was also revealed that an internal church report found Father Goodall had had sexual encounters with a 16-year-old female, as well as Mr Jones and the other young male complainant.

Cardinal Pell has this week said he got his decision wrong, and expressed himself poorly in the letter to Mr Jones.

Cardinal Pell said the scandal had not tainted the upcoming Catholic World Youth Day celebrations, which he described as the biggest week of his life.

"It is an extraordinary coincidence that these things have been brought up just before the Pope comes - we would like it otherwise," he said.

"But in the end you have to cope with what comes."


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