News George Pell Police not investigating more Pell abuse cases

Police not investigating more Pell abuse cases

A scrum of media, police and protesters welcomed Cardinal Pell to court in July, 2017. Photo: AAP
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Victoria Police has confirmed it’s not investigating any other cases involving convicted sex offender George Pell as the cardinal spent his first night in prison awaiting his sentence.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said on Thursday police were not investigating any other cases involving Australia’s highest ranked Catholic.

“No, not involving George Pell. No I don’t believe we are doing any other investigations there,” Mr Ashton told 3AW radio.

“Over and above what has been handled, not that I am aware of.”

The 77-year-old served his first night in jail after being remanded in custody on Wednesday.

Pell won’t apply for bail or pursue his appeal until after he is sentenced by County Court chief judge Peter Kidd on March 13, for orally raping one 13-year-old boy and molesting another after a Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.

Meanwhile, The Vatican says that its doctrinal department will open its own investigation into accusations against Pell, who was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors in Australia.

“After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said.

He did not elaborate.

Gisotti also confirmed that Pell was no longer head of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Pell’s five-year term as head of the department, effectively the Vatican’s economy ministry, expired several days ago and the Pope has not yet named a successor.

During Wednesday’s plea hearing in Melbourne, defence barrister Robert Richter QC conceded jail is inevitable, while senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC signalled the jail time will likely be “significant”.

Each of the five charges Pell was convicted on by a jury last December carries a 10-year maximum sentence.

Pell is expected to spend long periods in lockdown in protective custody, with Mr Ashton confirming this on radio.

For high-profile prisoners, certainly they have to take all appropriate measures to keep them safe and I am sure they will be doing that in this case.”

Former prime minister John Howard was among 10 people to submit a character reference to the court and described Pell, who he had known about 30 years, as of “high intelligence and exemplary character”.

The Cardinal has also been backed by other high profile commentators.

“I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges,” Mr Howard said in his statement.

“None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.

George Pell and John Howard at a function in Sydney in 2006. Photo: Getty

“Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality.

“I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.

“It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church.”

Mr Richter submitted Pell’s offending was at the low end of the scale and had no aggravating features.

“This is no more than a plain, vanilla sexual penetration case where a child is not volunteering or actively participating,” he said.

“It must be clear by now I am struggling with that,” replied Judge Kidd, who labelled the offending callous and brazen.

Judge Kidd regards Pell as unlikely to reoffend, while prosecutors say he is remorseless and shows no insight into his crimes.

Pell will be registered as a serious sex offender.

-with AAP