Taking a brief break from political coverage, a piece in the Australian newspaper The Age brings back the reality that the Catholic Church hierarchy remains very much in favor of protecting sexual predator priests and throwing the victims of clergy sex abuse under the bus. Personally, I would love to see Pell, the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Australia, hit with criminal charges. Here are story highlights:
Mr Ashton appeared on radio on Thursday morning responding to explosive allegations aired on ABC 7.30, as well as subsequent claims by Cardinal Pell of a "conspiracy" to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Ashton confirmed Cardinal Pell was the subject of an investigation by the Sano Taskforce that involved multiple allegations over a long period of time.
On Wednesday night, 7.30 aired detailed allegations made by former students of St Alipius primary school in Ballarat, who alleged Cardinal Pell would play with them in the swimming pool and molest them by touching their genitals under water.
Mr Ashton said charges against the Cardinal were still a possibility and that detectives were waiting on an opinion from the Office of Public Prosecution on whether the inquiry should continue.
"It's been a long investigation ... there are a lot of leads that have to be followed up," he said.
Cardinal Pell has rejected the allegations, claiming that Victoria Police leaked the information to the ABC and compromised the judicial process.
The ABC obtained eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family members who are reportedly helping the taskforce with its investigation.
One complainant, Darren Mooney, spoke publicly: "He'd throw us off his shoulders ... he would grab you from – have his hands on your backside and then he'd push you off," Mr Mooney said.
Another alleged victim, Lyndon Monument, described the abuse as: "his hand touching your genitals and stuff on the outside of your bathers or shorts. And then that slowly became hand down the front of the pants or your bathers or whatever you call them."
[He would] grab you ... around the testes, around the anus ... very forceful around the anus," a third complainant, Damian Dignan, told the program.
Other allegations aired on the program included:
· that Cardinal Pell would touch the genitals of children while swimming in a public pool in Ballarat in the late '70s.
· that he was naked in the change rooms on a regular basis in front of children.
· that he exposed himself to three young children in another change room, at the Torquay Surf Club in 1986 or 1987.
Cardinal Pell's office issued a furious statement and said he rejected all the allegations aired by the program.
Charges could still be laid against Cardinal George Pell over a string of allegations of child sex abuse going back decades, says Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton.