Pell Calls Inquiry into Priest Sex Abuse Row

By Annabel Stafford
The Age

July 11, 2008

JUST days before the Pope arrives in Australia, Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has been forced to call an inquiry into rape allegations against a former priest.

Dr Pell has re-opened investigations into Father Terence Goodall after phone taps recorded the convicted priest saying a sexual encounter with his adult victim Anthony Jones was not consensual.

In 2003, Dr Pell dismissed a sex abuse complaint against Father Goodall, giving weight to the priest's claim that the encounter was consensual.

But in 2003 police phone transcripts - played on ABC television - Father Goodall admitted to Mr Jones that the encounter was not consensual.

Mr Jones, now 54, was sexually abused by Father Goodall in 1982 and informed the church about it 20 years later.

In 2005, Father Goodall was convicted of indecently assaulting Mr Jones after pleading guilty to the charges, but served no time in prison. Dr Pell has now referred the rape allegations to an independent panel, the church said.

"Although the complaints of Mr Anthony Jones have been dealt with by the Church, the criminal court and the civil court, out of consideration for Mr Jones, Cardinal George Pell has formally referred the matters raised this week to an independent consultative panel," it said in a statement.

The panel, to be chaired by retired NSW Supreme Court judge Bill Priestley, will advise Dr Pell on the options open to him.

Dr 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 showed Dr 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 that Dr Pell was aware of a second allegation against Father Goodall.

Dr Pell said he got his decision wrong and had expressed himself poorly in the letter to Mr Jones.

Mr Jones' lawyer Peter Karp was critical of the investigation, saying it was just "another in-house look at Tony's matters".

"If we just go back to where he was at the start, before those letters were sent, what he wanted then (was) just a small amount of compensation, a letter of apology, acknowledgement of the wrong that's done to him," Mr Karp said.

Speaking before Dr Pell announced the inquiry, Mr Jones said the case did not need to be reinvestigated.

"I'm not interested in going back and debating the facts with Cardinal Pell," he said. "Cardinal Pell needs to publicly admit that he got it wrong, that it wasn't consensual, that Father Goodall did sexually abuse my person."

Victims of church sex abuse will demand the Pope apologise to Mr Jones when he arrives in Sydney. Broken Rites said Pope Benedict should meet Mr Jones and deliver an apology on behalf of all sex abuse victims.

But Mr Jones, who said he was happy to hear an apology from the Pope on "behalf of victims that have been crushed, lied to and treated in a deceitful way", said he first wanted "a complete vindication and compensation from Cardinal Pell".

Broken Rites has also drafted a set of demands it says the Catholic Church must adopt to show it is truly repentant about sex abuse in the church.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.