Cardinal Pell's lawyer accuses victim support volunteer of making up sex offence allegations




Cardinal George Pell's defence lawyer has accused a victim support group volunteer of making up allegations and trying to "pin" historical sex offences onto Australia's highest-ranked Catholic.

Cardinal George Pell faces historic charges, which he strongly denies.

Source: 1 NEWS

Pell faces multiple historical sex offence charges involving multiple complainants, and is fighting the charges at a committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

The pre-trial hearing, which will determine if Pell stands trial, opened to the public today afternoon after several days of closed court evidence from the complainants, as required by law.

A retired academic and volunteer researcher with victim advocacy group Broken Rites said he was contacted by a complainant's mother in late 2014.

"I had an email from her," Bernard Barrett told the court.

Defence barrister Robert Richter QC said Mr Barrett and Broken Rites "make up accusations about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse".

"You advocate publicly and you rile publicly against the Catholic Church in particular," he said.

"You make up representations on the website and elsewhere accusing the church of covering up sexual abuse, is that right?"

"We don't 'rile' or make up accusations, we just state the facts," Mr Barrett responded.

The defence barrister also suggested Mr Barrett's volunteer work with Broken Rites involved "trying to pin" something on Pell.

"Would you have considered it a considerable victory if you could pin something on Cardinal Pell as doing something wrong?" Mr Richter said.

The barrister also expressed frustration at many of the answers Mr Barrett gave during cross-examination.

"Do you know what it means to answer a question when asked, rather than advocate from the pulpit yourself?" Mr Richter said.

At one point Mr Richter asked magistrate Belinda Wallington to intervene as he tried to question Mr Barrett about whether he had taken notes about what the complainant told him.

"Would you mind disciplining the witness, Your Honour. I would like to finish but he's not making it possible," Mr Richter said.

The father of a complainant who died from a drug overdose in 2014 also gave evidence via video link on Wednesday before the hearing was adjourned.

As many as 50 people, including the complainants, will be called as witnesses during the month-long hearing, which began on March 5.

Pell was charged on summons in June 2017 while he was in Rome and took leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to return to Australia to face court.

He was supported in court by a friend and Katrina Lee, executive advisor for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

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