Cardinal George Pell’s fight to overturn a conviction for child sex abuse is set to continue, after the High Court decided to refer his legal team’s appeal application to a full bench.
A little after 9.30 this morning, as the court’s website crashed under the weight of traffic and anticipation, Justice Michelle Gordon made the long-awaited announcement.
For the Cardinal’s most vocal supporters, who have continued to deny his guilt ever since the jury’s verdict was made public in February, a High Court appeal provides a glimmer of hope.
Three minutes after the court released its decision, News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt was already blogging.
“Finally, the chance of the [sic] justice at last,” Bolt wrote.
“I hope [the court] is also aware that Pell could not possibly have committed the assaults on the two boys as alleged.”
Bolt is generally speedy on Pell-related matters. Within minutes of the Victorian Court of Appeal rejecting Pell’s first appeal in August, Bolt published a blog post saying he was “appalled” — even though the court’s 300-page judgment had not yet been released to the public.
And let’s not forget his ecclesiastical excursion to the scene of the crime earlier this year.
Miranda Devine, another of Pell’s News Corp cheerleaders, tweeted that the appeal was “good news”.
In a column written last week, Devine wrote that there was “no more vilified figure in Australia” than Pell.
“We should all hope that he wins because, otherwise, our criminal justice system is irreparably broken, and God knows which innocent man will be next.”
Devine followed her defence of Pell with an article about how liberals (of the progressive sort) had enabled powerful sex abusers.
As the appeals process rolls on, Pell’s defenders will keep on proclaiming his innocence. For victims of clerical abuse, a long and painful process continues.