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'It was ironic I faced abuse claims.' George Pell's first interview since his acquittal.

With AAP

One week after the High Court quashed five convictions of child sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell has given his first TV interview since his acquittal, saying it is “ironic” that he was convicted of child sexual abuse when it was he who led the Melbourne Archdiocese response against it.

“I think it’s a bit ironic that I’m the figurehead, the scapegoat that has copped most of this because what I did very early in 1996 is set up the Melbourne response,” he told Sky News’ Andrew Bolt, one of his most vocal and consistent supporters, on Tuesday night.

“One consolation for me is, for no Christian is any earthly tribunal the last tribunal. I know I won’t be able to fool my good God.”

Watch: The father of one of George Pell‘s accusers says he has “lost faith” in Australia’s criminal justice system. Post continues after video.

Video via Seven

The cardinal was convicted in December 2018 of five charges of child sexual abuse over allegations he assaulted two choirboys in the 1990s.

He was acquitted by the High Court last week and released from jail after serving 405 days behind bars of a six-year sentence.

During the interview, Cardinal Pell said he “became so incensed at the way prosecutors dealt with (two witnesses)” at his trial that he thought it would be best to remain silent in court.

“I thought that if I were to get in there I’ll have such a go at that fella because of this outrage,” he told Bolt.

The Cardinal, who has always maintained his innocence, said he still doesn’t understand what motivated his accuser to go to the police.

“I don’t know [what motivated him],” he said. “I wonder whether he was used. I don’t know what the poor fellow was up to.”

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The 78-year-old said his time in Victoria’s Barwon Prison had given him an interest in people who are “wrongly condemned” and a number of prisoners believed he was innocent.

“A number of prisoners said it was the only time they’d ever heard any prisoners taking the side of a priest convicted of paedophilia,” he said.

Pell said he made two friends in prison, including one who has been convicted of murder. But he said he doesn’t believe the man is guilty.

Cardinal Pell said his time behind bars was “quite atypical”.

“I got something like 4000 letters. I got immense support, practical and otherwise. I never felt forsaken. I had a daily routine. I followed the advice I’ve given to priests,” he told Bolt.

“I had a kettle and television set. Got a toilet, a shower, a bed with a firm base. I was up at the Toorak end. The poor fellas at the other end, often damaged by ice. (They were) roaring with anguish.”

LISTEN: Why has George Pell been released from prison? Post continues after podcast.


The cardinal also answered long-held questions about who paid for his costly defence.

“A lot of very generous people,” he said.

“Some of them very wealthy people who kicked in very solidly, a lot of them very good Christians and Catholics who weren’t very wealthy.”

The cardinal also contributed from his superannuation and savings, but still kept some leftover.

“I’ve got considerably less than I had,” he said.

During the interview, Pell also spoke about his original guilty verdict in December 2018.

“The decision is a mystery and I think the high court dealt with it well,” he said.

Cardinal Pell suggested he “wouldn’t be entirely surprised” if Victoria Police had an agenda against him, and wondered whether the complainant had been put up to making allegations.

For the time being, Cardinal Pell said he would remain in Sydney for the foreseeable future and “go quietly” into retirement.

Feature Image: Sky News. 


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