Cardinal George Pell dismissed allegations he molested two choir boys as a ‘far-fetched fantasy’ and relied on 10 reasons why it was ‘impossible’.
The Vatican’s number three argued the cathedral’s processes were so seamless that two boys simply could not have ‘nicked off’ unseen.
But a jury was unconvinced and convicted him of one count of sexually penetrating a child and four counts of committing an act of indecency.
Cardinal George Pell dismissed allegations he molested two choir boys as a ‘far-fetched fantasy’ and relied on 10 reasons why it was ‘impossible’
Pell, 77, argued 10 ‘independently impossible’ events involving 40 people would have to have happened in a 10-minute window for the prosecution to make its case.
The two 13-year-olds claimed Pell exposed his penis from beneath his ceremonial robe and molested them after he caught them taking swigs from a sacramental red wine in the priest’s sacristy after mass in 1996.
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.
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.
Pell argued this was impossible as St Patrick’s Cathedral was closed for renovations until November that year, so the second incident couldn’t have happened in the same year.
A jury was unconvinced and convicted him of one count of sexually penetrating a child and four counts of committing an act of indecency
Pell argued this was impossible as St Patrick’s Cathedral was closed for renovations until November that year, so a second incident couldn’t have happened when it was claimed to have
The 10 reasons Pell used to claim his innocence
1. He couldn’t have got back to the sacristy when they said he did
2. He was never alone to molest them
3. There were too many witnesses for it to have happened
4. Someone would have seen the boys abruptly leave after mass or arrive late to choir practice right after
5. Organists would have seen them sneaking off as they had a good view of the route to sacristy
6. Pell’s robes were too complex for him to rape the boys while wearing them
7. Victims said he caught them drinking sacramental red wine but only white was available
8. Only a madman would molest the boys in that setting
9. The second incident couldn’t have happened when claimed because church was under renovations
10. The victims stayed silent for many years and told no one
The timing was also impossible because he always spoke to parishioners on the steps of the Cathedral after saying mass.
He was escorted to the sacristy by at least one other priest and couldn’t have gotten back there, and been alone, in the time frame the victims claimed.
Furthermore, during this whole process he would never be left alone while robed, with his lawyers likening him to The Queen.
‘I recall the first two occasions he said mass and I can say I was with him the whole time he was robed on those days,’ his master of ceremonies Monsignor Charles Portelli told the court.
Pell claimed there would be too many people around for him to molest the boys as other participants would be there disrobing and then cleaning up.
The ceremony was also too carefully orchestrated for two choirboys to sneak out at any point and make it to the sacristy unnoticed.
The organists at the very least would have seen them as they played for 15 minutes after mass and had a good view of the route to the sacristy.
Even if they did, he argued they would have been seen when they arrived late to choir rehearsal straight after mass.
No witnesses testified that they saw the boys leaving or returning unexpectedly.
‘Only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the priest’s sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass,’ Pell’s lawyer told the jury.
Pell argued the cathedral’s processes were so seamless that two boys simply could not have ‘nicked off’ unseen. Pell is pictured performing a mass
Pell is the most senior Catholic clergyman to face trial over sexual offences anywhere in the world. He has been ailing in recent months
If all this somehow happened, it would have been ‘inhumanly possible’ for Pell to expose his penis to the boys while wearing the Archbishop’s robes, he argued.
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 Monsignor Portelli recalled only twice in five years not assisting.
The victims said Pell caught them drinking the sacramental red wine, but only white wine was used at the times as that was the Dean’s preference.
The cardinal’s defence used this alleged discrepancy to argue that they boys made up the story using the Catholic tradition of red wine.
The court heard evidence from the wine supplier but it was still unclear what wine was available at the time.
Pell claimed the timing was also impossible because he always spoke to parishioners on the steps of the Cathedral after saying mass, such as at this time at St Patrick’s (pictured)
Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter QC said: ‘Only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the priest’s sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass’
Finally, Pell argued the surviving victim’s memories weren’t of real events, but were a far-fetched fantasy that he, decades later, may have come to believe as the truth.
Pell’s lawyer pointed to the fact neither victim came forward immediately and that the victim who has since died denied being abused when asked directly by his parents.
He also argued that after the first incident involving both boys the surviving victim did not warn his friend when he was later abused again.
Pell has always maintained his innocence and has lodged an appeal against his convictions.