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Pell: A Sad Story That Doesn’t Interest Me Much…

“It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me.”

George Pell on the abuse of children by Gerald Risdale.

When John Howard was asked about the detention of David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay without charges for over five years, he expressed the view that the presumption of innocence doesn’t matter because “we know that he’s guilty.” Exactly what he was guilty of was a little less clear. We were constantly told that he couldn’t be charged because whatever he’d done wasn’t against any laws at the time he did it but he was guilty anyway and, as such, not entitled to legal protection…

George Pell, on the other hand, should never have had charges laid, according to Mr Howard. In fact, according to Peter Dutton, Pell’s conviction “should provide some cause for reflection for the Victorian Labor Government and its institutions that led this modern-day political persecution.” I guess he was ok with the second case that the police decided to drop before it went to trial.

Pell is dead and unless the High Court rules differently, he’ll stay dead. While the death of a person usually means that people adopt the idea that we should celebrate their lives and if you can’t say anything good about them, then don’t say anything at all. In George’s case, the effusive praise has been countered by some incredibly nasty vitriol by people who are upset by the fact that the man was a staunch conservative who placed the Catholic Church above everything. That, and his apparently blind eye to all the sexual abuse going on around him.

While all those are saying how terrible it was that Pell spent that time in jail, I wonder if any of them are pausing to consider whether he would still be alive if he’d stayed there. After all, even if he’d still had the hip surgery, he’d have been having it in a different place, at a different time and it may not have had complications. Still, I guess we can never know these things and we just have to have faith that God moves in mysterious ways…

Of course, when it comes to the charges that led to his conviction, we have to accept that he was an innocent man. The High Court said so, and if we don’t respect the way the law works, well, you end up like John Howard and Peter Dutton arguing that certain people have rights because we agree with them, while others don’t.

In Dutton’s case one has to wonder how on earth he can link it to Dan Andrews? In Australia, we have the separation of power and the police do not have to ask permission to investigate high profile people. Neither do they have to ask permission from politicians to lay charges if they feel they have the evidence to convict. Do we infer from Dutton that when he was head of Border Force that, if the AFP had come to him and said they had been asked to investigate a Minister for possible fraud, that he would have said, “No, I can vouch for him and tell you that he’s not guilty!”?

The presumption of innocence is an important aspect of our judicial system and we need to respect the fact that it gives us rights under the law that have been denied to people throughout the ages. When you don’t like that fact that a particular person wasn’t found guilty, you need to remember that you’re still allowed to dislike them. And you can harbour your suspicion that they were very lucky. But if they’re still alive you can’t say that they’re guilty without potentially attracting a defamation case.

It’s also true that they haven’t been exonerated or found innocent. The day-to-day discussions tend to gloss over this and allow the defendant to make statements like: “I told you that I didn’t do it and I’m pleased that I’ve been completely exonerated.”

In all the following cases, the person is not guilty under the law:

  • Jeffrey Epstein because he was still awaiting a trial when he was found hanged in his cell. (Ok, he had been found guilty of other charges years earlier, but legally he wasn’t convicted of the later ones.)
  • When an underworld figure is charged with a crime but all the witnesses mysteriously disappear.
  • Donald Trump for fraud, insurrection and a range of crimes against good taste.
  • If the rest of the bottle of wine disappears and my wife doesn’t believe my explanation about quantum mechanics and evaporation but accuses me of drinking it while she was walking the dog.

You can form your own judgement about any of these things. It’s just not legally valid until there’s a trial and the police have shown little interest in investigating the missing wine.


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  1. New England Cocky

    I always look forward to reading the quirky logic of Rossleigh that takes apparently completely independent idea threads and weaves them into a fabric to cover all of society. By John Howard’s logic, alleged rapist Porter, the former Attorney-General, because “we know that he’s guilty” ….. [because] ….. remember Kathrine Thornton. But I digress.

    Hallelujah!!! Hallelujah!!! Hallelujah!! Pell the paedophile protector is dead!!! Long may he rot in Hell with the kiddie fiddlers and rock spiders among the clergy and laity that he protected. There is a growing idea that the Catholic church is a criminal entity that is rotten to the core of the Vatican. Pell exemplified this idea.

  2. GM

    When Jesus said “suffer the little children to come unto me”, or words to that effect depending on the translation, it was that in him the children would find a safe harbour, not be abused. According to the investigation into sexual abuse Pell was well aware of what was gong on, but “it wasn’t of much interest” to him. He stands condemned by his own words, and his failure to act for those in dire need. I don’t really believe in heaven or hell, but I find myself hoping for the latter and that Pell finds his rightful place there.

  3. TwainandHume

    One of the most logical columns I have seen in the last three days that had anything to do with Pell, the LNP, Catholics, John Howard ad infinitum.

  4. wam

    great read, Rossleigh,
    I thought the scots had a solution to the lawyer tricks by using not proven which removed the protection of a retrial but that was bullshit so for 50 years 0I have been wrong. No surprise there.
    Saw the pope withdraw his hand as pell bent to kiss it. I expect god to do the same.
    notice the loonies are up to their old tricks with burnley’s blackmail attempt. Wonder if bobby is squiring over 2009?

  5. Terence Mills


    Sounds like the dog may be setting up an alibi !

  6. Keith Davis

    My comments do not refer to this excellent Rossleigh article.

    I am not a Survivor of child abuse, I am a Survivor of extreme child abuse over a long period of time, and I have spent my life refusing to become what was done to me. I reject anger, hate, vitriol, gleefull revenge, and bandwagon assassinations.

    Perpetrators are riven with hate and warped deviated anger .. there is no way known that I would wish to replicate such sickness of mind.

    The current Circus of Hate swirling through the MSM and social media re Pell’s death does nothing positive for the mental well-being of Survivors, and may well send some deeper into depression. Do the venters even take a second to consider the damage they might be doing as they join the angry pack-braying chorus?

    Pell is dead and beyond hearing anything that keyboard warriors wish to spew out. Those who survived him retain every right to pursue their claims and they have my full support in such legal endeavours.

  7. Gangey1959

    That was a fun read with my morning coffee.
    “Pell is DEAD”
    There was much rejoicing.
    It is a great pity that the bastard did not die in the prison where he belonged, to where he had been sent having been found guilty in a Victorian Court of Law by 12 Good People and True of the crimes with which he had been charged.
    Just because, on Appeal, some moron in the highest Court in the land set him free does not mean that he was not found Guilty in the first case.
    It’s not like the jury was tampered with, or strange photos were planted in the jury-room in order to stop the trial and let him remain as “alleged”, eh bruce.
    “Guilty as Charged, Your Honour. Lock him Up”
    Anyway. Now he’s dead.
    according to Arlo Guthrie, he’ll be up there outside the Gates on the “Bench marked W”
    “Where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join enter the Pearly Gates after committing your special crime, and with all of the other mean nasty ugly-looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
    Rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to him!”
    It’s not like he was in jug for Litterin’

    About 10.30

  8. Douglas Pritchard

    When we listen to more common sense coming from the Chinese Ambassador on the subject of our submarines, than we hear from our own Government, then the death of a celebrated god botherer is an absolute gem from heaven.
    Such distractions are necessary for our democracy to run smoothly.
    Crickey, but it beats more Markle in our diet.

  9. GL

    Dan Andrews on Pell:


    The Spud, of course, had to stick his vile little beak into the matter. The screams of outrage from the mad monk and caterpillar eyebrows and other RRWNJ’s shouldn’t be too far off at how horrible Dan is being about Pell. Here’s hoping that Albo doesn’t decide to fork out taxpayer dollars for a state funeral.


    It seems that NSW is also not allowing a state funeral.

  10. Kathryn

    I doubt anyone will mourn the loss of the notorious George Pell, who has been correctly revealed as a despicable paedophile-protecting hypocrite! Instead of supporting the countless hundreds of innocent child victims of the worst paedophile in Australia’s history – Gerald Ridsdale – Pell decided to accompany, protect and support Ridsdale on Ridsdale’s way into court to face due justice and eventual prosecution for Ridsale’s disgusting predatory sexual abuse of more than 71 innocent little children (see link hereunder). This ALONE says SO MUCH about Pell and NONE of it good!

    What is worse, is that Pell, himself, was personally accused by at least two boys (now adult men) of appalling sexual abuse which just about destroyed their lives! The fact that Pell was such a spineless coward, he scurried away to hide in Rome (when this scandal broke out) and ended up dying without ANY consequence, is an appalling example of how these corrupt, toxic bible-thumping hypocrites seem to get away with the worst crimes and paedophilia is, indeed, the WORST crime imaginable! The fact that the pathological liar and totally corrupt, swaggering misogynist, Tony Abbott, was his BIGGEST (and possibly last remaining supporter) is a RED FLAG WARNING as to Pell’s unspeakable depravity, megalomaniacal arrogance and unspeakable level of sanctimonious hypocrisy!

    The fact that the Catholic Church expended millions of dollars (poured onto the plates by unsuspecting church goers) to surreptitiously fund non-stop appeals to the High Court which ended up in Pell being WRONGFULLY acquitted, does NOT mean he is INNOCENT and never will – it just means that, like so many of the paedophile priests that hide behind a crucifix in the Catholic Church, he got away with it! Good riddance, Pell! Now it’s time for Pell to be parachuted into his rightful place seated right next to Beezlebub!

    There are enough facts to judge George Pell on what he was — and what he was not

  11. Meg

    ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a shibboleth and fundamental legal principle. But it does not preclude critical discussion around the exploitation of legal technicalities by hotshot lawyers that may be instrumental in securing a verdict of ‘not guilty’.

    Thus the legal right of appeal.

    For example (with parallels to the Pell case), so complicit and invested were the Temples of Art back in the day that gratis Big Art Money and its Hired Guns, ‘Australia’s Greatest Photographer’ (so-called) was never prosecuted and thus never exonerated – with the inevitable outcome that more explicit images from the original series, held back until the coast was clear, are currently being exchanged for large sums on the internet.

  12. Clakka

    Per Cheech and Chong:

    Looks like dog shit, feels like dog shit, smells like dog shit, tastes like dog shit ….. Lucky we didn’t stand in it!
    I’m also taken to the musings of Dante and Machiavelli.
    That’s all I think when I hear about Pell.

    Can’t stand the ‘adversarial’ system of law in the anglosphere. Facilitates lawyers playing games of semantics to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ a case. Much rather the European system of the pursuit of TRUTH whatever.

    I could not possibly recount the subtleties (or not so) that I encountered (mostly via the Americans) whilst I travelled representing an Oz aerospace player (of note) in Asia and the Middle East ….. law, “What law!”

    As for the ‘adversarial’ anglosphere, I updated myself yesterday on the plight of Julian Assange. Listened to the entirety of an interview between Stella Assange and Lee Camp (Lee Mint Press News)

    Stella was excellent, but VERY careful. What an unmitigated debacle. WTF is Assange guilty of (at law)? Nobody knows! Because the CIA (under Pompeo) was allegedly unable to get it together to assassinate him, the US lawyers just keep making things up, and bending their own laws, and making hollow pledges to the Brits. The Brits meanwhile have no idea what they can do to legally permit Assange’s extradition. Nevertheless, no bar is too low or too high, and no lie or defamatory filth is too stinking or wretched when it comes to application to Assange. So the only convenience they can muster is to brutalise him in solitary (in the hope that he will die) whilst they farnarkel with their unfarnarckelable laws. After all nothing and no-one can come between the cheeks of such desperate and unwashed political buddies.

    And recently reminded of the case (or no case) of the (ironically named) oil tanker ‘Brillante Virtuoso’ allegedly boarded and set ablaze by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Ah the stinking, no-account City of London (Lloyds et al). David Mockett, extreme expert marine surveyor, sent by Lloyds to investigate – expressed doubt as to story and causation – soon thereafter murdered, never investigated, no compensation to family. No investigation into alleged pirate attack.
    “… we eventually find out that it was the ship’s owner, a [notorious] Greek tycoon named Marios Iliopoulos, who orchestrated the devastation of the vessel in order to get out from under a massive financial debt. To pull it off, he enlisted a small group in Yemen, led by a Greek businessman named Vassilios Vergos, who worked in ship salvage operations.”
    No real or proper investigations by anyone … Lloyds paid out.

    So much for the law, and the cowboys of the City of London, oligarchs and institutions across the globe.

    Be careful of what you know, of what you don’t know, and what you don’t know you know.

  13. Terence Mills

    Cardinal George Pell, once told a World Youth Day audience that “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests abusing young people”.

    Having just watched the Life of Brian, this is very much the sort of comment you would expect from the Monty Python crew who would then discuss the subjective nature of the comment from the perspective of whether you are a person who has just been raped or an altar boy, or both.

    Welease Wodger !!

  14. GL

    How about releathing Thamthon the Thaddathee Thrangler?

  15. Cool Pete

    28 years ago, when a Spanish Court ruled that Christopher Skase could not be extradited to Australia on account of his health, some of the ill-educated claimed that we should boycott Spanish products. It was the Spanish COURT that ruled that Skase could not be extradited; not the Spanish Government and certainly not the Spanish Olive Oil producers or those who worked assembling Holden Barinas with Opel engines, or Seat cars. Similarly, it was a jury of 12 people who sat through the evidence, deliberated, and determined that Pell was guilty, and a Victorian judge who imposed a conviction and sentenced him to a prison term, not the Premier! Christopher Skase is innocent for the simple reason that despite photos on the front page of the Courier and Sunday Mail claiming that Mr. Skase was in fact glowingly healthy, he used every trick in the book from worsening gastroenteritis to glaucoma through to eventual stomach cancer, to avoid extradition and was never convicted!
    If Potato Head was an incompetent a police officer as he is a politician, it’s a surprise he managed to graduate from the academy! All Australian states have transparent judicial systems, and George Pell is not the first and nor will he be the last person to be wrongly convicted. In Queensland, former chief magistrate Di Fingleton, who should never have been prosecuted, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, of which she served six, for retaliating against a witness, of which she was also found innocent. As much as I despise her, The Poo Machine was convicted and subsequently had her conviction overturned, but there was no outcry from Potty Boy! When, however, a Queensland Magistrate fined three brave young women who protested outside the idiot’s office and scaled the roof, and did not record a conviction, Potty Boy had a cry to George Brandis about it! So, it’s only if it suits Potty Boy that he should complain about it.
    George Pell is NOT somebody who I have a lot of time or respect for, and anybody who’ll be in an organization where a senior figure will claim that abortion is worse than child sexual abuse is not somebody I would befriend. I remember an interview on Lateline with him about sexual assault and he was a conniving individual. As far as I’m concerned, George Pell is dead and now he can’t hurt again anybody who was hurt by his actions or decisions.

  16. Michael Taylor

    It’s rather damning that two prime ministers (and many in the right-wing media) stood by Pell despite his conviction for abhorrent crimes.


    A number of years ago Julia Gillard was tarred and feathered by the same people for being associated with an apparent Union criminal (which, btw, ended up being a falsehood). I wish I could remember his name.

  17. Canguro

    Michael, you’re referring to the AWU officials, Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt.

    That affair catalyzed an Abbott Government initiated Royal Commission, chaired by Commissioner Dyson Heydon, the sex pest shill who did the LNP’s dirty work and afforded a veneer of probity and due process.

  18. leefe


    If those “venters” are themselves survivors – and especially survivors of abuse perpetrated by people Pell helped to protect – they can say whatever they want and I’ll be cheering them on. I’ve found my own ways of coping – I will not dictate to any others what their methods should be.
    The venting that sticks in my craw is that of people who join the packs all too willing to tear accused perpetrators to pieces, but expend zero effort in doing anything that will, in any way, help the survivors. It’s all performative, retributiive anger and fear that achieves nothing positive.

  19. Kerri

    The presumption of innocence should be balanced with the possibility of guilt.

  20. Michael Taylor

    Blewitt, that’s the bloke. Thanks, Canguro.

  21. Andy56

    A few things i want to say. Pell wasnt convicted is not the same as not guilty.
    As a used to be catholic, one has to ask the question, how can a man with no empathy ever get to be a priest? Howard is of the same ilke as pell, good at his craft but a woeful human. We are eternally greatfull both are now unable to excersise any power.

  22. Bert

    Don’t know if the place exists but if it does I hope the bastard is roasting in hell as I type this.

  23. Keith Davis

    Hi Leefe .. I always read your comments with open interest. Yeah .. I agree with your point about hate expressed without positive advocacy follow through.

    Hey .. how about this as a whiff of good stuff .. I’m breaking out of hermitsville, at least for a day, and putting on a delayed Xmas day for close friends .. gosh, I’ve had to mow and de-weed, clean windows, mop floors, wash walls, sweep decks, prepare a feast, and trim my beard. Being a temporary non-hermit is such hard work .. I fully intend to become an unapologetic recidivist the day after the delightful event!

  24. leefe


    That’s brave. My breaks from hermitsville are to other peoples’ places (or out bush, but that’s really another kind of hermitting) – this is my sanctuary and I don’t want anyone else here. Besides, that means I don’t have to worry any more about housework than usual. Why can’t technology give us a self-cleaning house?

  25. GL

    Everything I’ve read about Pell still leads me to the fact that he was an arrogant, self-righteous thug and prick of the first water.

  26. paul walter

    I felt I had been lured into a sort of sentimental mindset- poor old fella, 81 and so forth.

    That is, until I read of his attack on the pope, then Tony Abbott turned up. So I was left wondering why no onehad mentioned Alan Jones.

    No. If the conservatives had hoped to gain mileage from any thing labor has done since, this and the Parakeet’s nazi uniforms imbecility certainly killed it.

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