A PAEDOPHILE & RAPIST! Even if released, George Pell will never be truly innocent

ANALYSIS: In just about an hour’s time, George Pell will learn if his appeal against his conviction for raping two 13-year-old choirboys has been successful. Even if it is, history will likely and rightly remember the former Catholic Archbishop of Australia as a child abuser, a rapist and enabler of other paedophile priests, writes Gary Johnston.

Two weeks ago, the High Court in Edinburgh found Alex Salmond – Scotland’s former First Minister and the man who would have been the nation’s political head of state had the outcome of 2014s independence referendum differed by only a handful of percentage points – not guilty of 13 charges of rape and sexual assault.

The alleged victims, 10 women who claimed they’d been violated by Salmond in Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence as well as in ministerial cars, restaurants and night clubs, were all government employees who, initially at least, had individually reported their experiences to police investigators.

The acquittal therefore, created a tsunami of invective toward the Scottish legal system, with numerous allegations that political interference and corruptive practices had influenced the verdict in favour of Salmond, a divisive figure even in his pomp, known, not always affectionately as ‘Wee Eck’.

On the charges, a jury found the ex-First Minister not guilty on 12 of the sexual assault matters by a majority verdict, whilst a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape was found not proven.

This third verdict — not proven — is unique to Scots Law and although analogous to not guilty, is essentially considered to mean that the prosecution has been unable to ensure that a guilty verdict meets the required standard of corroboration.

However, a not guilty verdict, in Scots, English and indeed Australian law, must be delivered if the evidence does not meet what’s called ‘the standard of proof’ — beyond reasonable doubt.

RELATED: The George Pell Trial – Where Are We Now? David Marr speaks about ‘The Prince’ who became a convicted child rapist

In just an hour’s time later today, the highest court in the land, the Australian High Court in Canberra, is due to set out its decision in the ongoing matter of Cardinal George Pell, convicted in the Victorian County Court in December 2018 of one offence of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four offences of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child under 16 years.

Pell was subsequently sentenced a period of six years imprisonment; in August last year, in a 2-1 judgment, Victoria’s Supreme Court of Appeal rejected his bid to have the conviction overturned.

Emboldened by funds garnered by followers who continue to believe in Pell’s apparent infallibility — a GoFundMe campaign effortlessly raised a reputed million dollar plus fighting kitty — the final scenes will now be played out; this is the end of the line for Pell, no further appeals are possible.

TRUE OPINION: When the Pell is paltry

Since his imprisonment, Pell was first incarcerated in the Melbourne Assessment Prison – despite its CBD location, it is largely unnoticed by most city dwellers — where he was originally put to work in the vegetable garden, until, that is, a drone was seen flying overhead; since then Pell has been confined to quarters in Barwon Prison near Geelong.

According to insiders in the prison system however, Pell’s time in jail has been relatively comfortable. He continues to receive numerous high profile visitors — or at least he did up until the recent COVID-19 lockdown — and there are credible reports that a number of devout Catholic prison wardens have gone out of their way to assist the elderly cleric, who it’s said, likes nothing better than an afternoon relax in his single cell with a good book —  presumably THE good book.

Should Pell be acquitted, which a number of Australia’s legal minds feel is on the cards, no doubt fuelled by the Justices’ split decision in the original appeal, there will doubtless be a similar level of castigation toward the judicial system, as there was with regard to the case of Alex Salmond in Scotland.

Social media is already ablaze with the contention that Pell’s supporters in the mainstream media and certain political circles have ensured a ‘mates rates’ verdict and that Pell, a convicted pedophile as it currently stands, will walk free, exonerated and absolved.

This is not actually the case.

If the original conviction is overturned, it will mean nothing in the eyes of most people and, in point of fact, is effectively a legal decision, with its genesis in the crucial aspect of the standard of proof.

TRUE OPINION: Andrew Bolt – professional paedophile ally

The establishment of guilt is determined by the available evidence, in this case, the testimony from the one surviving victim of the original assault — the other now sadly deceased — and whether a subsequent conviction can, on such a basis, be said to be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

This criminal standard, which differs from the civil standard — ‘on the balance of probabilities’ — is significantly harder to prove, being a complex tangle of legal potentiality and in a situation of two divergent accounts, where a verdict cannot be absolutely without doubt, must instead reach the required standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, somewhat confusingly defined as ‘that the proposition, scenario, or facts presented by the prosecution must be proven to the jury to the extent that there could be no “reasonable doubt” in the mind of a “reasonable person” that the defendant is guilty.

Who constitutes a ‘reasonable person’? Well, that would be you and I.

RELATED: GO TO PELL! An incomplete list of all the wankers who have supported convicted child rapist George Pell despite guilty findings

Pell has consistently denied culpability, but two courts have already considered the credibility of the witness to be more compelling than his denials; crucially and some say, wrongly, the cleric did not take the stand in his original trial and therefore did not offer any testimony.

Essentially therefore, if the appeal is successful, it does not mean that Cardinal George Pell did not perpetrate the abhorrent acts of which he currently stands convicted, it means instead that the available evidence could not prove the crime ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

Regardless of the expected joy of his fans, two former Prime Minsters amongst them, Pell will not, if he walks, be truly free.

His reputation,  his character, surely the most important aspects of all to this, by all accounts, arrogant, puffed-up individual, is and will continue to be forever shredded.

His eminence is tainted, his prominence dissipated, his influence vitiated, Pell is frankly done, not ‘not guilty,’ but simply not proven.

And, given that are recent reports of new historical sexual abuse allegations perpetrated by Pell, perhaps this is not entirely the end of the matter.

In or out of jail, Pell is, quite literally, a done man walking.

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About Gary Johnston 53 Articles
Gary Johnston is an author, academic and former parole officer with decades of experience in the criminal justice system. He is True Crime News Weekly's Deputy Editor and Melbourne correspondent. His book 'No Previous Conviction' was published in May 2017 and is available on Amazon.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for this article and the related postcast. It’s an obvious statement, but you are doing really important work. Thank you and hope to be a subscriber soon. Just incredible the High Court didn’t even watch the tapes of the evidence.

    One thing perhaps to draw people’s attention to: I was on the Crikey news website and read a statement from the father of the other choirboy who killed himself. He said the day of his (the father’s) statement was the anniversary of his son’s death. The article was dated the 8th of April. So the High Court delivered its judgment on the day, or the day before, the anniversary of the victim’s suicide and released Pell in time for Easter. How horrific.

    If someone knows that father, or knows a journalist who knows that father, please tell him their are members of the public who are aching for him and the other surviving choirboy and family, and that we are appalled by the state of the judiciary. The public will never forget what Pell’s done and who his supporters are. Pell will never be what he was.

  2. P.S. Here is the link to the Crikey article. People may dismiss the timing of the decision as an unfortunate coincidence, and I’d perhaps be inclined to agree if it wasn’t for the fact that I know of similar timing in another sexual assault case where the judge’s decision was handed down at a significant time for the victim. If it’s a mistake then it’s very unfortunate and shows the judicial system just a machine with no thought for the victims or their families.

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2020/04/08/pell-complainant-father-justice/

  3. Pell was found not guilty by the high court, end of story. This was a witch hunt from day one, shame on the media and the ABC for condeming an innocent man, one of the victims told his mother before he died that it never happened, that should have raised alarm bells in the first place, remember pedophiles come from all walks of life, even married men.

  4. Listen Gary Johnston, half guilty and half innocent does not exist,the High court found Pell not guilty so he is innocent. Everyone including Pell is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, as he was not found guilty then he is presumed innocent, had he been found guilty he would be in Gaol.This was a massive witch hunt against Pell by the Victoria police, the media and the ABC,This reminds me of the same style witch hunt against Lindy Chamberlain, I remember she got paid a lot of money, what you should be pushing for is to hold accountable all the people involved in this witch hunt, I hope Pell sues for millions.

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