Monday, 1 August 2016

Cardinal George Pell protests his innocence from his bunker in Rome

27 July 2016

Cardinal Pell repeats what he told the ABC 730 Report before the broadcast, he refutes all the allegations made on the program.

The ABC has no licence to destroy the reputation of innocent people and Cardinal Pell, like all those who have allegations against them that have not been tested by the Courts, is entitled to the presumption of innocence - not immediate condemnation. He is entitled to a fair go.

While the Cardinal in no way wishes to cause any harm to those making allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against him, the simple fact is that they are wrong.

"I bear no ill will and have no desire to cause them harm but what they say about me is not true." Cardinal Pell said.

Nearly six months ago media outlets carried leaked stories of allegations against the Cardinal which were said to have been under investigation by the Victorian SANO Taskforce for over 12 months. Despite this there has been no requests made by the Taskforce to interview the Cardinal and the Victorian Police Commissioner confirmed last month that no request to interview the Cardinal had been proposed to him as necessary.

It seems there has been leaking of information and allegations by elements of the Victorian Police to the ABC. This is consistent with previous patterns of improper and illegal disclosure of information from such sources to a variety of media outlets. Such information has in the past repeatedly been demonstrated to be inaccurate and unfounded.

In a context where police themselves have suggested, accurately or otherwise, that the making of charges is under review by relevant authorities, these disclosures and consequent publicity by the ABC clearly are apt and calculated deliberately to influence and compromise relevant judicial and prosecutorial processes.

The Cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC program amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The Cardinal has cooperated in the past and will continue to co-operate through the proper and appropriate civil authorities.

He will not participate in trial by the ABC and other media outlets. "I have done nothing wrong." Cardinal Pell said.



ABC News statement on last night’s 7.30

28TH JULY 2016

Victoria Police was not the source of the ABC 7.30 story. Nor did witnesses approach the ABC. The report was the result of our own on-the-ground journalism over the course of months, which included finding people who would be willing to talk to us on camera.

There is a clear public interest case for reporting on this matter. Cardinal George Pell is a significant public figure, a senior figure in the Catholic Church, and he also has had direct responsibility for the Church’s response on the issue of child sex abuse.

Excerpt from the transcript of ABC 7.30 program aired on 28 July 2016:

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF CARDINAL GEORGE PEOPLE (male voiceover): "The cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC program amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Neither Taskforce Sano nor anyone else at Victoria Police leaked this story to 7.30. All of the statements we gathered were given to us by the people who made them. This morning, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton rejected the Cardinal's claims.

GRAHAM ASHTON, CHIEF COMMISSIONER, VICTORIA POLICE: My response to that is that we haven't provided the ABC with materials. Anyone who saw that show last night on the ABC, which I did look at, it's clear it's - the source of that information is from the victims. You could see the emotions in their voices and see it in them last night, they're highly traumatised from what they are saying has happened to them and they're talking to the media about that.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: The Chief Commissioner confirmed that the Pell file was still with the Office of Public Prosecutions and that it included all of the matters raised by 7.30 last night.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So they cover a long period of time?

GRAHAM ASHTON: Oh, yeah, a long period of time, yes.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So there are multiple allegations over a long period of time?


LOUISE MILLIGAN: Mr Ashton says Victoria Police is still awaiting the OPP's advice.

GRAHAM ASHTON: It's been a long investigation on - in these issues. They take a long time to investigate. A lot of leads have got to be followed up and it'll understandably take time for OPP to do a decent assessment on that, so, they haven't given us a timeframe, which they'll come back and - we tend to not pressure them for that.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So does that mean the position we're in at the moment, charges are still a possibility?

GRAHAM ASHTON: Oh, anything's a possibility at this stage.

Excerpt from the transcript of ABC 7.30 program aired on 27 July 2016:

LOUISE MILLIGAN: George Pell left the Ballarat Diocese for Melbourne in 1984. He then spent his summers at Torquay Beach, where he was a member of the local surf club. Local dad Les Tyack's kids were keen surfers and Mr Tyack used to see George Pell around the club. One summer day, he says he witnessed a strange incident, so strange it later compelled him to go to police. He says he walked into the club change rooms and found George Pell and three boys he estimates were aged between eight and 10.

LES TYACK, TORQUAY RESIDENT: I said, "Hi, George." And at that time he was towelling - had the towel going across his shoulders drying his back. But he was facing three young boys only about three or four metres across from him. And I thought it was a little strange, but I put my gear down on the bench and walked into the showers. I was in the showers for probably five to 10 minutes and when I came out, the boys had got dressed, but Pell just had the towel over his right shoulder, still facing the boys. And the boys were looking at him. There was no communication between them, but Pell was looking at the boys, they were looking at him. I immediately thought, "This is not right. There is something amiss here."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Les Tyack says he was disturbed that a naked man had stood there for 10 minutes facing the boys.

LES TYACK: I thought that was not on. Very strange situation for an adult to be full frontal to three young boys. I said to the young boys, "Finish doing what you're doing, off you go." When they left, I then said to George Pell, "I know what you're up to. Piss off. Get out of here. If I see you back in this club again, I'll call the police."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Mr Tyack says the way George Pell's torso was angled during the incident also raised alarm bells.

LES TYACK: It makes me very suspicious that he was exposing himself to those three young boys. He made sure that at no time was I given the opportunity to see the front of him.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: And you thought that was suspicious?

LES TYACK: Very suspicious. Very suspicious. Because when I challenged him, he made no response to me at all, which I thought quite odd. I'm certain that if I'd been challenged in such a manner, I certainly would have fired up with questioning. What do you mean? What are you talking about? But no, Pell went very silent, didn't say a word.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: When the royal commission was sitting last year, Les Tyack decided to make his statement to Victoria Police.

LES TYACK: There may have been other incidents out there in the public domain that people had seen or witnessed and so I decided to report it so that those collating all the evidence could put it aside there and it might help form a dossier on Pell's activities.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Cardinal Pell did not specifically address the allegations made by Les Tyack, but says more generally that, "No request has been made to interview Cardinal Pell, nor has he received any details of these claims from the police or anyone. In late May, the Cardinal was advised by the SANO Taskforce that there had been no change in the status of the investigation," since a newspaper reported in February that an investigation was taking place.

Cardinal Pell makes the point that he has apologised to victims of abuse of other priests on behalf of the Church many times and has met with many victims personally.

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