December 21st, 2017 | Shannon Deery | The Herald Sun
The secret charges being defended by Cardinal George Pell have been released to a media organisation during negotiations over access to a journalist’s notes.
The charges have not yet been publicly released but were today given to lawyers representing the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan before they agreed to hand over a series of materials.
The Cardinal has been charged with historical sexual offences but the specific charges he is facing, or the number of alleged offences, is not yet known.
Lawyers for Cardinal Pell have subpoenaed material from Victoria Police, the ABC, Melbourne University Press and Ms Milligan.
Specifically what materials have been sought is not known.
Lawyers for the ABC and Ms Milligan today reached an agreement with the Cardinal’s lawyers about what materials they would hand over.
But they could not say when they could release the materials because an ABC staffer key to the subpoena was on maternity leave.
Ms Milligan has won a string of awards for her work covering the Cardinal Pell allegations.
Earlier this year Melbourne University Press published a Walkley Award winning book she authored, which Cardinal Pell’s Rome office labelled “an exercise in character assassination”.
It was later pulled from shelves in Victoria after he was charged.
“MUP is taking all reasonable measures to withdraw Cardinal: the rise and fall of George Pell by Louise Milligan from sale in Victoria now that Cardinal Pell has been charged,” the publisher said at the time.
The book was released on May 15 and contained allegations about sexual assaults in Ballarat between 1976 and 1980 and in East Melbourne between 1996 and 2001.
Cardinal Pell was not in court for today’s administrative hearing, and was not required to be.
He is expected to face a month-long preliminary hearing next March over the allegations, about half of which are expected to be heard in a closed court while the complainants are cross-examined.
The case is expected to return to court twice before then.
The Cardinal has taken leave from his post as the Vatican’s finance chief but has vowed to return to the top job once he clears his name.
His high-profile lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, has repeatedly said Cardinal Pell would vigorously fight every charge brought against him.
When he was charged in June Cardinal Pell made a statement proclaiming his innocence.
“I’m innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sex offences is abhorrent to me,” he said.
“News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity, to clear my name and then return to my work in Rome.
“I am looking forward finally to having my day in court,” he said.
The matter will return to court on January 10.
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