Media who reported on Pell’s conviction could face ‘jail time’

Media who reported on Pell’s conviction could face ‘jail time’ December 16, 2018

An Australian probe is considering whether news outlets outside of the country can be prosecuted and subjected to ‘serious jail time’ for reporting that Cardinal George Pell, above, the Vatican treasurer, had been convicted of child sexual abuse.

According to LifeSiteNews  – itself accused of violating a gagging order – a legal authority is now threatening US media sources with legal action for what it called a “breach” of a reporting ban imposed by a judge in respect of the Pell prosecution. The ban applies to:

Any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible [my emphasis] within Australia.

News of the investigation coincides with an Independent report that Pell has been “removed” by the Pope.

A media blackout of the proceedings against Pell had been ordered on June 25 by the Chief Justice of the Victoria County Court, His Honour Chief Judge Peter Kidd.

Chief Judge Kidd’s suppression order, which has not been appealed, covers Pell’s first trial, and a second to begin next year. The order enjoins media not to release any information about the trials, including outcomes.

The Australian Daily Telegraph responded to news of Pell’s conviction with hints of who had been convicted without naming him. Wednesday’s front page stated:

An awful crime. The person is guilty. You may have read the news online already.  Yet we can’t publish it. But trust us …

It included the headline:

It’s the nation’s biggest story.

The story of Pell’s conviction was apparently first reported by The Daily Beast and swiftly picked up by Church Militant, which said on Friday:

There are sound reasons to doubt the verdict. 

In response to news leaking of Pell’s conviction, Chief Judge Kidd ordered Pell’s legal team, Robert Richter and Ruth Shann, as well as Kerri Judd, QC, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions and her assistants to appear before him in open court on December 13.

At  that meeting he raised the spectre of mass arrests of media figures and serious jail time.

My thinking at the moment … is this, that given how potentially egregious and flagrant these breaches are, a number of very important people in the media are facing, if found guilty, the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment.

Image via the Office of Public Prosecutions, Victoria

Judd, above, suggested that the media figures also be charged with sub judice contempt, which means contempt “in the sense of prejudicing the next trial’.”

She also suggested extraditions of media bosses to Australia.

The maximum penalty for a breach of Australia’s Open Court Act offense is five years in prison.

Judd stated that the gagging order applied within all states and territories within Australia and:

On any website … accessible within Australia

Judd said also that she considered the Church Militant report:

Has a real and definite tendency to interfere with the proper administration of justice in this matter.

It therefore had breached both the “sub judice contempt principles” and the suppression order.

She asked Church Militant to remove its report from “publication” and said she was “considering [her] options” regarding proceedings against the organiation.

Church Militant is only one of the many North American media organisations that have reported Pell’s conviction. Among others, they now include LifeSiteNews, the Daily Beast, Catholic News Agency, National Catholic Reporter, America magazine, Slate magazine, the Washington Post, and the New York Post.

Without mentioning his conviction, the Independent said that the Vatican:

Has removed two cardinals implicated in sexual abuse cases from a powerful council of advisers picked by Pope Francis to guide him on matters critical to the future of the Catholic Church.

One of the cardinals is George Pell of Australia, who has been facing charges of sexual abuse of minors in legal proceedings that are subject to a gag order in that country, suppressing news coverage until after they have concluded.

The other is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile, who has been accused of covering up abuse.

The Pope also dismissed a third cardinal, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the 79-year-old archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

H/T BarrieJohn (Independent report)

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  • Michael Neville

    A non-Australian publisher, operating in a different country, could face prosecution because an Australian judge issued a gag-order. IANAL but I can see an Australian prosecutor having problems convincing an American judge to extradite someone to Australia when that person hasn’t violated any American laws or judicial orders.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Does not matter, the world knows now that Pell abused boys. Who you going to come after? It’s long past the time the Church’s authority be removed from the public arena.

  • ephemerol

    Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that this wasn’t an undemocratic thing to do, and that international law supported this, who from a foreign media company would she throw into an Australian prison? The publisher? The editor-in-chief? The beat reporter? Everyone on the masthead? The whole company?

  • Jemolk

    Um, yeah, have fun with that, judge. This is utterly unenforceable. That is of course to say nothing of immoral or insane, both of which it is as well. Also, Judd and Kidd, thanks for outing yourselves as fascists. Less work for us.

  • Jim Jones

    > … a legal authority is now threatening US media sources with legal action for what it called a “breach” of a reporting ban imposed by a judge in respect of the Pell prosecution.

    Who do the Aussies think they are? America? ;P

  • Jim Jones

    It won’t be extraditable.

  • ephemerol

    I figured Michael Neville already had that covered…

  • WallofSleep

    Sorry Kidd. You did your best to play cover for the pedo church by trying to sweep the story under the rug, but you failed. Tough shit.

  • Bubblecar

    Absolutely fucking farcical. This attempted censorship is a serious embarrassment for Australia and there really ought to be some way of prosecuting Kidd himself for this nonsense, and chucking him in the slammer.

  • Stephen Mynett

    I agree Bubblecar and it gives a totally wrong view of the country to those who do not know it. I have a lot of family in WA and have visited many times, although have spent time in New South and the Queensland as well and have rarely come across any Aussies who would tolerate this sort of thing, in fact if it were not for the fact my sister is seriously infected with religion and I met some of her friends I doubt I would have come across any religionist twerps there.

    Even Ken Ham had enough intelligence and realised he had to get out and try his crap schemes elsewhere.

    Good to see another of the old forum members here, I am afraid we seem to have lost many of the regulars, although BJ and Broga are as good as ever.

  • Jim Baerg

    Did the judge at any point publicly state a reason for the gag order?
    It is conceivable to me that there could be a good reason for secrecy about something, but I think the burden of proof should be on those who would keep it secret.

  • Paul Cardin

    What would the “Lord Almighty” say?

  • EllyR

    I guess the whole company for the sake of justice and to show no prejudice or bias…

  • EllyR

    It might be excretable in this case…

  • EllyR
  • Lurker111

    IANAL either, but if an ex-US judge tried to give me any orders, I’d tell him to go piss up a rope.

  • Michael Neville

    Especially a judge from a country that I’d never set foot in.

  • VerbivoreAU

    Reason given for gag was that publication of the guilty verdicts might prejudice Pell’s chances of a fair hearing at a forthcoming trial (other offences, other boys) in February, i.e. be subjudice.
    At first glance that seems reasonable, but reasonableness be damned: no “lesser” person, no commoner, no layperson, no-one who is not very highly connected to Those In Control … no-one who didn’t have the unimaginably manipulative power of the Catholic Church behind them is likely to be granted that privilege.
    Aussies are generally a sceptical and unbelieving bunch; the court’s attempts at gagging news of Pell can only backfire badly — for both Pell and the court.

    Three things come not back: the spent arrow; the neglected opportunity; and the said word. The news is out, legal eagles.

    Get used to it!

  • Donalbain

    This was NOT an attempt to cover for anyone. When a trial is ongoing, it is common for reporting to be restricted to ensure that the jury are not contaminated by external reporting. It is one of the safe guards needed to ensure a fair trial. Violating the order has the potential to allow the defendant to appeal on that basis. So, reporting restrictions favour the victim not the accused.

  • Donalbain

    Ongoing cases.

  • WallofSleep

    I sit corrected. Thanks.

  • sukashost1998