The case of Cardinal George Pell

So, let’s be clear, these were all allegations, correct? Reports by “survivors” that were determined to be so by compelling evidence in a court of law, or purely by autonomous or anonymous report to a commission? How were the reports screened for reliability or veracity? No attempt made? Purely as #MeToo allegations?

Is a religious school a religious institution? Certainly its teachers are mostly not clerics. So I don’t know if we have a number for ”Male cleric abuse of girls”.

Correct. It would be foolish to imagine there is rampant false claims, though there could be some.

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The Royal Commission was extremely conservative in its findings. You should read them. The entire proceedings and all their background material is on line. You can make your own assessment. In a large number of cases the offences were admitted.

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I am not sure it would be “foolish to imagine” there might be rampant false claims. The more I read about Cardinal Pell’s trial the more I am convinced there is something insidious behind at least a good number of allegations. If Pell’s case actually resulted in conviction, and it did, the level of animus against the clergy in parts of Australia appears to be very high. That hardly makes for a fair hearing, let alone responsible screening of allegations.

Link here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00131857.2017.1419673

Note that the majority of reports of abuse were received in private interviews. The abused had nothing to gain - except maybe an opportunity to let someone know what had happened to them. A traumatic experience in itself.

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I have read some, including your citation.

There are a number of anomalies that jump out.

The first being that the largest proportion of these allegations were from the 1970s.

The second that over 3000 have resulted in payouts averaging $88 000.

The third being the fact that the inquiry looked into schools, and found…

Almost one in three of all survivors we heard about in private sessions (2,186 survivors
or 31.8 per cent) told us they were sexually abused in a school setting as a child.
Of these survivors:
three-quarters (75.9 per cent) said they were abused in non-government schools,
of which 73.8 per cent identified a Catholic school and 26.4 per cent identified an
Independent school

Given that only about 18.5% of schools in Australia are Catholic, it seems very odd that 56% of all abuse in schools happened in Catholic Schools and 20% in independent schools (total = 76%) when 65.4% of students go to public schools.

Are Catholic schools such dens of iniquity that they breed such levels of abuse? Or is there a concerted attempt to shut down private schools and this is one method of doing so?

This data alone brings into question whether fairness and impartiality were part of this inquiry.

There is no reason to think public schools wouldn’t have the same levels of abuse as any other type. Make a case if you don’t agree.

Just for comparison, Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem of abuse in schools in the US and found…

“[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?” she said. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

The 2002 [the US] Department of Education report estimated that from 6 percent to 10 percent of all students in public schools would be victims of abuse before graduation — a staggering statistic.

So why the paucity of reports of abuse from public schools in Australia in the report. There were 2.5 million students in public schools in Australia in 2016. 6% of those (using US comparables and being conservative in estimating) would mean something like 150 000 would have experienced sexual abuse. But only 25% of the abuse reports were from public school students even though those make up 2/3 of all students. Seems very fishy.

I can’t see a connection. There is a presumption that alleged accusers are telling the truth, Pell is unpopular, people do not easily warm to him, he’s done some terrible tv interviews and a jury might be predisposed to accept this accuser against Pell. But that is a far cry from a basis to conclude there are hundreds of people prepared to come forward with fabricated claims.

Is this “sexual abuse” or something broader? How many have come forward to report this abuse in the US? The US population must be 15 or 20 times that of Australia…

The word is refering to the gender which is the same otherwise heterosexuals would also be homosexuals.

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The connection is that if a large sector of the population has animus towards the Church, and that appears to be the case in Victoria for example, it provides a great deal of moral impetus to those who want to make claims against priests and clergy. If those allegations are simply taken at face and supported without much question then that emboldens false claims to be made.

Payments of $88 000 per victim, on average, seems to be a great incentive to make allegations, only a small percentage of which could give specific details such as dates and time of day.

My point about the schools is that public schools would be about par with Catholic or independent schools in terms of levels of abuse. The fact that the Commission found far more instances of abuse in Catholic and independent school indicates that there appears to be bias in terms of how each were treated in the inquiry.

Or, it could, and is far more likely to mean…

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The Australian Bishops have accepted the findings of the Royal Commission and all but one of its findings (seal of confession). Yes, it might be a vast conspiracy of evil anti-Catholic law enforcement officers and greedy people telling lies about what happened to them but I’m not sure anyone advancing such a proposition can have the best interests of the Church at heart, or at least in head. There is a problem shared by virtually all institutions. There are specifically Catholic issues in terms of culture, tendency to cover up, and the structures of Church, particularly those associated with the operation of religious orders and the administrative authority of bishops. Cardinal Pell himself drew attention to this latter point in his evidence to the Royal Commission which is well worth reading.

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This doesn’t address the point about the schools having such discrepant data.

As an attorney, having experience in criminal defence matters, and having examined the “evidence” used against Pell, I can say with confidence that his conviction was not simply a miscarriage of justice, but a complete abortion thereof. In South Africa it is improbable the case would have even reached trial stage.

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So do you have access in South Africa to the suppressed evidence and record of cross-examinationof the complaint? If not, how did you bring your ‘experience in criminal defence matters’ to bear on your ‘examination’?

Huge step from having a dim view of the clergy to fronting up in front of Royal Commissioners, lawyers and others and making up a story complete with crocodile tears.

If one were fabricating a story, you’d think obvious details like that might be incorporated into the prepared story. But if not - I’m not surprised events of decades ago, in childhood, can’t be tied to a precise date and time. In fact, if they could, That might be cause for doubt.

Do you mean “sexual abuse”? I don’t buy the suggestion that one set of students grew up with a major grudge against their teachers, so severe that they go and make up stories of heinous acts and tell them in a formal setting, and the other chooses not to. I think the more obvious explanation probably needs to be accepted as more likely. That being that the relevant religious orders attracted persons not properly equipped for the lifestyle involved, whereas the public school teachers are a more diverse / representative sample of society.

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Of interest in the Pell case is whether a jury may simultaneously believe a witness but decide the testimony is not sufficient to convict - that is, allow reasonable doubt. I have always assumed “yes”.

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From the linked report it appears there were 2186 cases of abuse in schools and 859 in Catholic schools. Thats 39%.

20% of schools are Catholic, 65% government and 15% independent.

So we have 39% of abuse taking place in 20% of the schools (Catholic) and 61% taking place in 80% of the schools (non Catholic).

And a quick word on personal experience. Both of my kids went to Catholic schools in Australia. Very rigid discipline in both. A lot like the school I went to in the UK. Kinda ivy league. Some teachers actually wore gowns (as they did in my son’s school). Rectangles. School uniform. Rigid discipline. Yes sir no sir three bags full sir. And I was physically beaten on a few ocassions. Assaulted might be a better word for it. And I had some friends who went to what might be classed as a government school. Where I heard a couple of teachers were the ones assaulted.

We had zero problems with the two schools. But it has always been obvious to me that the more rigid the discipline, the easier it is to take advantage of children. Especially young ones. And it only takes one bad apple to end up with tragic reports, many years after the event, of abuse infinitely more horrendous than a physical beating.

The figures speak for themselves. Not many people were surprised by them.

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That isn’t my argument. I am suspicious of the manner in which data was collected.

The religious orders weren’t those mainly responsible in the schools.

I suspect you missed the point from the US Dept of Education that between 6-10% of students were victims of abuse, and yes this refers to sexual abuse specifically.

The John Jay Report made it clear that…

According to the best available data (which is pretty good, coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, as well as several other studies), 4 percent of Catholic priests in the U.S. sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time which states this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4 percent figure appears lower than school teachers during the same time frame, and certainly less than offenders in the general population of men.

So your point that “… the relevant religious orders attracted persons not properly equipped for the lifestyle involved, whereas the public school teachers are a more diverse / representative sample of society…” appears untrue.

The more “diverse/representative sample of [men in] society” and the teaching profession specifically is more prone to sexually victimizing minors than priests and religious.

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