Australian Cardinal George Pell hits back at groping claim ‘smear campaign’

July 28, 2016 3:30 am

Cardinal is the finance chief for Pope Francis (above) at the Vatican. Photo / AP

Australian Cardinal George Pell has vehemently denied groping
allegations against him and says he is the victim of a “scandalous smear
campaign” championed by the ABC.
Two men have told Victoria Police they were abused as children by the Cardinal when he was a priest in Ballarat in the 1970s.
They
have gone public with their stories on ABC’s 7:30, saying he groped
them while they swam at Ballarat’s Eureka Pool during the summer of
1978-79.
But in a response from Rome the cardinal said, “I have done nothing wrong”.
He
called for an investigation into alleged leaks of information from
Victoria Police to the ABC and whether there was a conspiracy to pervert
the course of justice.

The two accusers, now in their 40s, gave statements to Victoria Police’s special child exploitation task force Sano last year.
Lyndon
Monument said Cardinal Pell would play games with many of the boys
while in the pool, throwing them in and out of the water, but also
brushing against their genitals.
“That slowly became hand down your pants, or your bathers or whatever you call them … under the water,” Monument said.
Classmate Danian Dignan said he didn’t feel Cardinal Pell’s actions were accidental.
“Fair enough, (if it happened) one time. But it
got to a stage where every time he picked you up (his hand) was there.
And, it was not much fun,” he told 7:30.
The two men said he
would also often change in front of them. “He’d undress and then he
would say to us to undress,” Monument told 7:30.
“So we would undress and then he would teach you how to dry your testicles and in between your bum and stuff like that.”
But
the Cardinal, who is the Pope’s finance chief at the Vatican, said any
claims of abuse against him were “totally untrue and completely wrong”.
In
his statement he said the allegations were “nothing more than a
scandalous smear campaign which appears to be championed by the ABC”.
“I
bear no ill will and have no desire to cause them (the accusers) harm
but what they say about me is not true,” the Cardinal said.
The
statement said there had been no requests made by Sano to interview the
Cardinal and the Victorian Police Commissioner confirmed last month that
no request to interview him had been proposed to him as necessary.
It
said there appeared to have been “improper and illegal” leaking of
allegations by elements of the Victorian Police to the ABC.
“The
Cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of
elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC programme amount to a
conspiracy to pervert the course of justice,” the statement said.
Archbishop
of Sydney Anthony Fisher said that the allegations needed to be
investigated in a way that afforded all parties natural justice.
“No one is served when such due process is replaced with trial by media,” he said.
The
Archbishop said the Cardinal had a record of leadership in the fight
against child sexual abuse and “the allegations aired on the ABC do not
correspond with the George Pell I know”.

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