Cardinal George Pell is spending his first night in jail as he awaits sentencing for molesting two choirboys minutes after leading Mass.
He is locked up in the protection wing of Melbourne Assessment Prison to prevent him from being attacked as a hated paedophile by other inmates.
These 299 other prisoners include notorious criminals like Bourke Street rampage driver Jimmy Gargasoulas and Eurydice Dixon’s murderer Jaymes Todd.
Cardinal George Pell is spending his first night in jail as he awaits sentencing for molesting two choirboys (pictured in his last steps as a free man arriving at court on Wednesday)
After arriving in a white prison truck Pell, 77, had to discard all his belongings except his religious necklace and trade them for prison clothes.
He endured a humiliating strip search where he had to spread his bottom cheeks wide, lift his testicles, and poke out his tongue.
Once a top Catholic Church official, Pell will now be just another prisoner subject to standard rules and requirements that will govern his life.
Pell would likely be handed an ‘immediate needs pack’ with $3 phone credit, a pack of cigarettes, box of matches, toothbrush, toothpaste, sachets of coffee and sugar, and tea bags, 600ml of full cream milk, and two condoms.
The typical list of items inmates are allowed to have during his prison stay isn’t much longer and a far cry from his lavish life as the Vatican’s third in command.
Clothes include six pairs each of undies or boxer shorts and socks, two singlets, two jumpers or jackets, four tops, four pairs of pants and shorts, and pyjamas.
After arriving in a white prison truck (pictured) Pell, 77, had to discard all his belongings except his religious necklace and trade them for prison clothes.
He is locked up in the protection wing of Melbourne Assessment Prison to prevent him from being attacked as a hated paedophile by other inmates
He also gets a suit and dress shoes tucked away for court appearances, such as his sentencing hearing on March 13 and his subsequent appeal.
Pell’s shoes will be limited to one pair plus thongs, a belt – with a small buckle the prison will have to approve of – and a cap.
For entertainment in his tiny cell he is allowed six books and six magazines, plus his reading glasses to make out the letters.
Only six photographs to remind him of his former life are allowed, and they can’t be polariods or otherwise laminated.
His meager $140-a-month allowance, a far cry from how he lived it up in Rome, will have to pay for his meals, telephone calls, and toiletries.
He will first be sent to Melbourne Assessment Prison (inmate pictured arriving) while authorities decide where to send him for potentially the last years of the frail priest’s life
Pell was fond of showing children his genitals, but he will probably enjoy the humiliating strip search and medical check he will endure on arrival far less
Pell would likely be locked in isolation behind a door marked with just his prison ID number because of his high profile, spending 23 hours a day in a suicide-proof cell.
For an hour a day he would shuffle under guard to a small exercise yard rimmed with razor wire, feeling the sun on his face with only watchful guards for company.
Meals are at set times of day and usually are bland and far from hot, rotating between fish, pork, and beef, with Vegemite banned as it can be made into alcohol.
Breakfast is at 8am, lunch at 11.30am and dinner at 3.30pm.
As the first experience inmates have with prison, MAP is a confronting place and all the more depressing as the tram is audible from inside.
Former inmates say ‘a pervasive sense of despair and misery permeates the building’ for this reason.
At the height of his power, Cardinal George Pell blew $750,000 on luxuries like fancy gowns and extravagant furniture while living in a $30 million flat – but now he’s going to jail
For an hour a day he would shuffle under guard to a small exercise yard rimmed with razor wire, feeling the sun on his face with only watchful guards for company
Senator Derryn Hinch recalled how depressing the cells were in the diary of his two weeks in solitary confinement for contempt of court in 2014.
‘You are like a caged animal. Can’t even see out the slot window in the cell door. It has a cloth cover on the outside,’ he wrote for the Herald Sun.
Prisoners usually spend between seven and 21 days at the MAP while authorities decide where to send them for the rest of their sentence.
Pell may be reunited with an old friend, paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, whom he was housemates with in Ballarat during the 1970s.
The 84-year-old, who abused 65 boys as young as four, has been in jail since 1993 and is serving the last years of his sentence at Langi Kal Kal.
The minimum security prison, where Pell could be sent, is populated almost entirely by sex offenders and get better treatment than other prisoners.
Slices of life include a communal kitchen to cook their own food, along with a pool, a tennis court, a living room, and laundry.
This humbling, tedious existence would be a steep fall from grace after he spent $750,000 of church money just a few years ago
The cardinal was named the Vatican’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, making him the third highest-ranking cleric in Rome. He is pictured with Pope Francis
He could also be sent to Port Phillip Prison purely because it would be easier to care for his long list of medical conditions.
This humbling, tedious existence would be a steep fall from grace after he spent $750,000 of church money just a few years ago.
Pell was picked by Pope Francis to slash waste in the church as its chief financial officer, but posted a hefty bill setting up his Vatican pad.
Staying at the $30 million Domus Australia guesthouse in Rome, at a cost of $5,100 along with an office, he also employed an Australian assistant for $21,000 a month.
He kitted out his new digs with $87,000 worth of luxury furniture, including blowing $6,650 on kitchen sink fittings.
Other luxuries included $3,600 on tailored religious robes and thousands more on business class flights around the world.
All that is gone and replaced with a cell where the ageing cleric, who was only allowed to stay free after his conviction to get a double knee replacement, may die.
Staying at the $30 million Domus Australia guesthouse in Rome, at a cost of $5,100 along with an office, he also employed an Australian assistant for $21,000 a month
He kitted out his new digs with $87,000 worth of luxury furniture, including blowing $6,650 on kitchen sink fittings
THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST CARDINAL GEORGE PELL
PROSECUTION – KEY ARGUMENTS
Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC, senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC and crown prosecutor Angela Ellis told the court:
* There were opportunities for Cardinal George Pell, newly-installed as Archbishop of Melbourne, to sexually abuse two choirboys in the late 1990s. Evidence that the boys slipped away unnoticed from the post-mass procession because of ‘mischief’ and were ‘caught’ by Pell while drinking wine in the priest’s sacristy, withstood defence arguments.
* Pell used the priest’s sacristy to vest and disrobe during Sunday mass because of renovations which rendered the Archbishop’s sacristy unusable. There were times Pell was left alone while still robed.
It was still possible for Pell to expose his penis to the boys while robed because of slits in the alb, an under-tunic, which were designed to access pockets.
* Neither victim reported the abuse at the time but that does not mean it didn’t happen. Mr Gibson quoted the surviving complainant who said it ‘took a courage much later in life’ to even consider speaking out.
He feared jeopardising his scholarship to the prestigious St Kevin’s College, making things difficult for his parents and struggled to understand what had happened and if it was ‘normal’.
DEFENCE – KEY ARGUMENTS
Barristers Robert Richter QC and Ruth Shann told the court:
* The prosecution timeline relied on 10 ‘independently impossible’ events involving 40 or more people occurring within the same 10-minute window in order for the events to have happened and gone unnoticed.
That includes: the two 13-year-old boys slipping away from the middle of the post-mass procession without being seen; Pell being alone and robed in the sacristy and not on the cathedral steps; and there being no other priests or altar servers moving between the sanctuary and priest’s sacristy as was their practice after mass.
* It would have been ‘inhumanly possible’ for Pell to expose his penis to the boys while wearing the Archbishop’s robes.
The ensemble was made up of the alb, an ankle-length white under-tunic which included two slits to allow access to pockets, locked into place around the waist with a knotted rope cincture.
A decorative chasuble was worn over top and, on special occasions a dalmatic as well. Pell required help robing and disrobing and Pell’s master-of-ceremonies recalled only twice in five years not assisting.
* The surviving complainant’s memories aren’t of real events, but are a far-fetched fantasy that he, now aged in his 30s, may have come to believe as the truth.
Mr Richter pointed to the fact neither victim came forward immediately, that the complainant who has since died denied being abused when asked directly by his parents, and that after the first incident involving both boys the surviving complainant did not warn his friend when he was later abused again.
Pell was found guilty by a County Court jury of one count of sexually penetrating a child and four counts of committing an act of indecency.
Those verdicts were made public only after the abandonment of a second trial over allegations Pell indecently assaulted boys in Ballarat, 110km north-west of Melbourne, in the 1970s.
Pell limped from court surrounded by a brigade of yellow-vested police officers, with a passerby screaming for him to ‘rot in hell’.
Two 13-year-old boys on scholarships to the prestigious St Kevin’s College in late 1996 and were caught swigging sacramental wine in the priest’s sacristy by Pell, newly installed as Archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell could then be sent to Port Phillip Prison (standard cell pictured) purely because it would be easier to care for his long list of medical conditions
Langi Kal Kal (workshop pictured) is another potential destination – a minimum security prison populated almost entirely by sex offenders who get better treatment than other prisoners
If Pell ends up in Langi Kal Kal he will be reunited with old friend and fellow paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale (pictured), whom he was housemates with in Ballarat during the 1970s
Pell scolded the boys, then exposed his penis from beneath his ornate ceremonial robes, and molested the pair including forcing one to perform oral sex on him.
‘You’re in trouble,’ he told them before the assaults.
One of the boys said he was sexually assaulted again by Pell a month or so after he was raped, recalling that he was pushed against a cathedral wall.
‘He shoved me against the wall violently and squeezed my genitals,’ the court heard.
The cardinal’s barrister Robert Richter QC argued the allegations were a ‘far-fetched fantasy’, that Pell was always accompanied after mass and that his cumbersome robes would have prevented him revealing his genitals.
‘Only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the priest’s sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass,’ he told the jury.
Pell has always maintained his innocence and has lodged an appeal against his convictions.
FROM ALLEGATIONS TO CONVICTION: A TIMELINE OF THE CARDINAL GEORGE PELL CASE
– Pell appointed Archbishop of Melbourne by Pope John Paul II
– Pell sexually abuses two 13-year-old choirboys after a Sunday solemn mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral
– A second indecent act is committed by Pell against one of the choirboys in a corridor at the Cathedral.
– The Herald Sun reports Pell is being investigated by Victoria Police’s Sano taskforce for ‘multiple offences’ committed while he was a priest in Ballarat and Archbishop of Melbourne
– Pell says the allegations are ‘without foundation and utterly false’ and calls for an inquiry into how the police investigation became public
– Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton asks the anti-corruption watchdog to investigate the leak, but denies it came from police
Cardinal George Pell, 77, is known as the Vatican’s treasurer and had been granted a leave of absence while facing trial over child sex offences in Australia. He has surrendered his passport
– Pell gives evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s inquiry into abuse in Ballarat
– Under Vatican rules, Pell gives Pope Francis his resignation on his 75th birthday, as is customary. It is not accepted
– Victoria Police investigators hand over to the state’s Office of Public Prosecutions a brief of evidence on allegations of sexual abuse by Pell
– Officers travel to Rome to interview Pell over the abuse claims. He voluntarily participates in the interview.
– Police present their final brief of evidence to the Office of Public Prosecutions to consider charges
– Prosecutors give police the green light to charge Pell.
– Pell is charged with multiple counts of historic child sex offences
– He denies the charges and vows to clear his name
– Lawyers for Pell appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court
– Pell takes leave from his Vatican finance chief role to fight the charges.
– Pell returns to Australia
– He hires top barrister Robert Richter QC
– Supporters set up a fund to help Pell fight the charges.
– Prosecutors drop one of the charges against Pell
– A month-long committal hearing begins to determine if Pell will face trial
– Prosecutors withdraw more charges
– Mr Richter claims police conducted a ‘get Pell operation’ and accuses magistrate Belinda Wallington of bias. She refuses to disqualify herself from the case.
– Magistrate Belinda Wallington orders Pell stand trial on some charges, but throws out others
– Pell formally pleads ‘not guilty’
– Two trials are ordered, separating the 1970s and 1990s allegations
– A Victorian County Court employee is sacked for looking up information on the Pell case.
Scenes of anger at the Melbourne courthouse as Pell is convicted of child sex abuse
– The 1990s ‘cathedral trial’ begins in the Victorian County Court in Melbourne
– Pell pleads not guilty again to one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four of indecent acts with a child, over incidents involving two 13-year-old choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.
– The jury is discharged, unable to reach a verdict following a week of deliberation. Some jurors weep.
– A retrial begins. The jury aren’t told of the previous hung jury.
– Pell is found guilty on all charges by an unanimous jury
– Mr Richter says Pell will appeal
– Suppression orders prevent Australian media reporting the verdict but it spreads through international media within hours.
– Hearings begin ahead of the second trial. Prosecutors drop another charge
– An appeal is filed against the cathedral trial conviction
– A County Court judge deems vital evidence inadmissible
– Prosecutors withdraw all remaining charges against Pell and drop a second trial over allegations Pell indecently assaulted boys in Ballarat in the 1970s when he was a parish priest
– Pell is taken into custody on February 27 as the plea hearing begins
– Pell is due to be sentenced by County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd.
Australian Associated Press