Lou Bondi Asked to Testify in Priestsí Sex Abuse Appeal

By Jurgen Balzan
Malta Today
January 13, 2012

Lou Bondi (far right) with the victims of the St Joseph Home sex abuse scandal, outside the law courts.

The defence lawyer for the two priests convicted of the sexual abuse of minors under their care, has asked the court to hear Bondiplus presenter Lou Bondi as a witness in the priests' appeal

Defence lawyer Gianella de Marco will present new evidence and witnesses in the appeal of Fr Godwin Scerri and Fr Carmelo Pulis against their prison sentences. She said court should accept the new list of witnesses as they will provide new evidence which emerged after the court sentence was issued. de Marco added that it is up to the court to then decide whether the evidence is relevant or not.

de Marco was representing Fr Charles Pulis and Fr Godwin Scerri who were last August given jail terms of six and five years respectively for the sexual abuse of minors under their care at the St Joseph Home in Hamrun. They faced accusations by 11 victims, who were then aged between 13 and 16, were resident at St Joseph's Home in Sta Venera in the late1980s when the abuse took place.

de Marco also protested that the accused were only informed of the appeal and the date on 2 January and she did not have enough time to prepare for today's sitting. She also argued that the appeal should be postponed since her legal partner Joe Giglio was abroad and could not be present for today's sitting.

The new witnesses include Pulis' psychiatrist Mark Xuereb and Scerri's three personal doctors apart from the Bondiplus presenter, whom the defence says will confirm "allegations that Lawrence Grech is a liar." de Marco said that Bondi's evidence would confirm Grech's system of conduct.

The defence lawyer said Bondi's blogs can confirm Grech's behaviour traits such as his greed, his penchant to bite the hand that feeds him and his thirst for the limelight. de Marco said she was not asking for Bondi's opinion but only to confirm the fact that he was lied to by Grech who convinced the other victims to get involved.

In his blog, Bondi had accused Lawrence Grech of lying more than onceon various issues on the relationship between the presenter and the victims. Bondi had for the past eight years represented the sex abuse victims up until last September.

Bondi had said his work with the victims was over once the court had found the priests guilty of the abuse which took place between the early 1980s and 1990s when the victims were aged between 13 and 16, and in their care at the St Joseph Home, which is run by the Missionary Society of St Paul.

"I have no difficulty to confirm under oath what I had written on my blog. The statements made by Lawrence Grech about me at the time were untrue," Bondi said in a statement after the court sitting. "At the same time, this has no bearing on my views on whether the sexual abuse had taken place. I never had and still do not have doubt that it did, as confirmed already by the court."

Judge Scicluna deferred the case to 27 Janauary where the Attorney General's appeal will be presented.The new witnesses will testify at a later stage. Mr Justice Scicluna added that the court accepts the evidence of the four medical doctors, but it will decide whether Lou Bondi can be accepted as a witness at a later stage.

The prosecution argued that if Lou Bondi had to be presented as a witness he would only be expressing his personal opinion about his relationship with Lawrence Grech, one of the victims.

The victim's lawyer Peter Valentino argued that Bondi's evidence would not be relevant to the case as it would not produce any new facts which occurred after the sentence was issued. "If Lou Bondi is brought forward as a witness then I will ask the Archbishop to testify about the reasons why an apology was issued and why the accused were defrocked after the internal investigation which ended up at the Vatican," Valentino said.

The victims' lawyer said Bondi's testimony would only be a journalist's opinion on the disagreement between Lawrence Grech and the journalist himself. Judge Scicluna said that if Bondi is added to the list of witnesses he would only be asked whether he can confirm the contents of his blog posts.








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