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What George Pell's defenders cannot possibly know about his victim.

When the suppression order lifted on Cardinal George Pell’s verdict this week, there were many with a platform that couldn’t accept that one of the most powerful men in the Vatican was guilty of child sex offences.

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt told his audience he believed Pell was “wrongly convicted.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Divine also doesn’t think it’s true; “I don’t think Pell, who I know slightly and admire greatly, could be guilty of assaulting two choirboys in a busy cathedral.”

Former Prime Minister John Howard said; “none of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.”

And Tony Abbott, also a former leader of our country, told 2GB; “It doesn’t sound consistent with the man I have known. I absolutely accept that this is a shocking result, but it is subject to appeal.”

Yes, Andrew, Miranda, John and Tony might like and admire Pell –  but none of these four people were in that courtroom.

None of them heard the evidence. No one in fact, except the jury and the judge, heard the victim’s two and a half days of testimony in full.

The Quicky interviewed New Daily’s Lucie Morris Marr who reported on Pell’s court case. Post continues after podcast.

It was a closed court. “We were all [journalists and the public] ordered to leave,” journalist Lucie Morris-Marr told Mamamia’s The Quicky.

According to Morris-Marr, this is “standard practice for child sexual assault victims”.

“They [testify] via video link and the media are not allowed, and the reason is they think that it puts pressure on them and added stress, and they don’t want anyone who’s been through child abuse to have added stress.”

So there’s a crucial detail we need to remember about the Australian voices using their platforms to argue that Pell is not guilty: their arguments are based purely on what they heard about the case, which omitted the most important part of the trial – the victim’s testimony and cross examination.

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The jury were unanimous in their verdict, with the eight men and four women taking three and a half days to find Pell guilty of five charges – one of sexually penetrating a child and four of committing indecent acts with children.

ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan, who is one of the only people in Australia who knows the identity of Pell’s complainant, told 7.30; “I defy anyone to meet this man and not think he is telling the truth.

“He has absolutely nothing to gain from this and everything to lose.

“This kid has not led a chequered life. He’s university educated, he hasn’t had trouble with the law. He has a lovely girlfriend, lots of friends and he’s a pillar of his community in a sort of understated, slightly ironic way, and in that part of his life, he is, he told me, very happy.

“He’s managed just to, keep it together. He’s been able to compartmentalise. He’s the sort of complainant you’d want as a Victoria Police detective alleging historic crime,” said Ms Milligan.

Pell’s accuser told the court; “I had no intention back then of telling anyone ever.

“I was young and I didn’t really know what had happened to me. I was worried about anything that could jeopardise my schooling,” he said.

Pell’s other victim was not able to tell his side of the story. He died in 2014 from a heroin overdose. It was his death in fact, that prompted the complainant to come forward.

The complainant released a public statement via his lawyer which gave us an insight into how he has been affected by sexual abuse, as well as the trial.

“Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle. Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact on my life. At some point we realise we trusted someone we should have feared, and we fear those genuine relationships we should trust.

“I need space and time to deal with the ongoing criminal process. I understand this is a big news story. I ask the media respect my privacy.”

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Apparently his evidence in court was so strong, and so powerful, it decided the case. The public has never seen it.

And yet Bolt and Divine have pointed to the improbability of the scenario presented in court for the day in question.

pell
Cardinal George Pell remains behind bars after having his bail revoked after being found guilty of child sexual offences.

The two boys were abused by Pell after he found them in the sacristy (the room where the priests get dressed). They were swigging sacramental wine after a Sunday mass.

According to the prosecution barrister Mark Gibson SC, the complainant told the jury, "Pell planted himself in the doorway and said something like, "What are you doing here".

Instead of letting them go, the then arch-bishop of Melbourne forced one of the boys to perform oral sex. To the other, he forced them to perform oral sex before fondling him as he masturbated.

Both Bolt and Divine say Pell would have been with worshippers after mass not the sacristy, also pointing out it is a busy room that anyone could walk into.

They also argue Pell is accompanied everywhere he goes by the master of ceremonies. Making the scenario impossible.

We understand the job of "shock jocks" is to discuss current affairs, to pull them apart, analyse them - have an opinion.

But these commentators do not know - and cannot know - the facts in full.

Pell's complainant was cross-examined for more than a day by the defence barrister. Robert Richter QC is known as the best in the business. If there were holes in his version of events, this man would have found them.

And yet 13 jurors believed his story. They found Pell guilty.

And they're the only ones fit to make that judgement.

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