George Pell Won’t Be Reinstated As Vice Patron, Says Richmond
By Remy Varga
April 16, 2020
The Richmond Football Club will not reinstate Cardinal George Pell in an ambassadorial role despite his conviction for child sex abuse being unanimously overturned by the High Court of Australia.
A spokeswoman confirmed the board's decision on Thursday, which she said will not be revisited with no further comment to be made.
Cardinal Pell was stripped of the honorary role of club Vice Patron in February 2019 after the Cardinal was convicted of child sex abuse, for which he served 405 days in HM Prison Barwon.
That verdict was quashed by the High Court of Australia on April 7 this year.
Before Pell entered the priesthood, Richmond signed Pell as ruckman in 1959 and he played for the club’s reserves and the Tigers previously stood by Cardinal Pell when he was first charged with child sex offences in 2017.
At the time, CEO Brendan Gale was reported saying he understood the seriousness of the allegations but “in light of Cardinal Pell’s fundamental legal rights to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial, he will remain a Vice Patron of the Club, pending the outcome of any trial.”
Cardinal Pell became the world’s most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse in 2018 and he served 13 months for abusing two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne before the verdict was overturned.
Abuse survivors and victims’ advocacy groups have despaired over the High Court’s decision, raising concerns it could discourage others from coming forward.
The Tigers have several other Vice Patrons, a largely symbolic role adding prestige and credibility to the club.