This article titled “George Pell hearing told new allegations against cardinal have been made to police” was written by Melissa Davey, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 20th March 2018 08.00 Asia/Kolkata
The committal hearing into historical sexual offence allegations against Cardinal George Pell has heard that a new statement containing additional allegations against him has been made to police.
Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter QC, told Melbourne magistrates court on Tuesday that a witness due to face cross-examination had on Monday night made another statement to police. The development was “problematic”, Richter said.
It was unclear if the new statement would result in charges being laid, Richter told the court. However, he said that the witness’s original statement should be withdrawn. It is understood the witness’s allegations will now be dealt with in an investigation separate to the committal hearing currently taking place. Prosecutors did not dispute the case being handled in this way.
Witnesses who gave evidence on Tuesday morning, including a Catholic priest, Charles Portelli, and a retired schoolmaster, John Mallinson, were asked by Richter about their memories of the layout of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in the late 90s. They were asked about who could enter and exit corridors and rooms without a key, including the priest’s sacristy, and about how closely choir boys were supervised by staff as they entered and exited the cathedral as part of a procession for mass. At the time, Pell was archbishop of Melbourne.
“There was never an opportunity for the archbishop to be alone in the priest’s sacristy?,” Richter put it to Portelli.
“No,” Portelli said.
Richter also put it to Portelli that any allegation of misconduct by the archbishop in the sacristy during Sunday mass would be impossible due to who had access to the room. Portelli agreed.
However, Portelli told the court that other masses were held at the church throughout the year that did not fall on a Sunday and where the choir was required.
When the committal hearing ends in just under two weeks time, magistrate Belinda Wallington will decide if there is enough evidence to order Pell to stand trial for historical sexual offence allegations. Further description of the charges cannot be given for legal reasons. Pell will not have to enter a plea unless he stands trial.
Pell has attended each day dressed in a beige jacket, often sitting taking notes or with his head bowed. He has been supported throughout by his friend Katrina Lee, the executive adviser for the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney.
Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal. He has taken leave from the Vatican in Rome to attend court. He has strenuously denied all allegations.
The committal hearing continues.
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