Friday, July 29, 2016
Cardinal Pell subject of Victoria Police investigation into multiple allegations of sexual abuse
Britain has just undergone a big witch hunt based on a heap of allegations from the distant past like this -- with many of the accusations being found so defective that they never even went to court. The historic accusations were mostly the work of mentally disturbed people or people looking for a payoff. I have little doubt that the accusations against His Eminence are similar
Police are investigating multiple child abuse allegations levelled directly against Australia's most senior Catholic cleric Cardinal George Pell, the ABC's 7.30 program has revealed.
Victoria Police's Taskforce SANO, which investigates complaints coming out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has been examining the allegations by complainants from Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne for more than a year.
They include allegations about incidents which allegedly happened during Cardinal Pell's time as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
7.30 understands that the Pell case has been referred by Victoria Police to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.
7.30 has obtained eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family members who are helping the taskforce with their investigation.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed last month that the taskforce was investigating multiple allegations against the Cardinal and, if necessary, detectives would fly to Rome to interview George Pell, although the Chief Commissioner said "it had not been put as necessary to me at this point in time".
Mr Ashton declined to comment to 7.30, although his spokesman has confirmed to the program it is "very much a live investigation".
In a statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell's office said he "emphatically and unequivocally rejects any allegations of sexual abuse against him".
The complaints include those by two men now in their forties, from George Pell's home town of Ballarat, who say he touched them inappropriately in the summer of 1978-79 when he was playing a throwing game with them at the town's Eureka pool.
In another complaint, Torquay businessman Les Tyack gave a statement to the royal commission last year relating to an incident at the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club in the summer of 1986-87.
He said he walked into the club change rooms to discover a naked George Pell behaving in a manner that caused him concern in front of three boys he estimated to be aged between 8 and 10 years old.
A further complaint about George Pell that 7.30 is aware of relates to the period in the 1990s when George Pell was setting up the Melbourne Response — the Australian Catholic Church's first attempt to seriously address child abuse.
It involves two teenage choirboys who asked their parents to leave the choir soon after the alleged abuse had occurred.
One of the boys died in tragic circumstances two years ago and the other is working with Taskforce SANO detectives.
7.30 has met that young man and the family of his former friend who died.
George Pell says claims are 'totally untrue and utterly wrong'
George Pell declined to be interviewed by 7.30 and did not address specific allegations, but said he had never abused anyone.
In a statement, his office said: "The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse. However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong."
The Cardinal is entitled to the presumption of innocence and police and prosecutors will decide whether any of the allegations warrant charges.
George Pell has previously faced public allegations of sexual abuse.
In 2002, when George Pell was Archbishop of Sydney, a man came forward to the Church to say that George Pell abused him in 1961 when he was 12 years old and George Pell was a trainee priest.
In a statement to an internal church inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Alec Southwell, the complainant alleged that on several occasions at a campsite on Phillip Island, the man known to him as "Big George" put his hands down his pants and "got a good handful of his penis and testicles".
He said George Pell molested him on several occasions in a tent and once, under his bathers, when they were in the water, jumping in the waves.
The then-Archbishop Pell stood aside in 2002 while Alec Southwell conducted the inquiry for the Catholic Church.
At the time, George Pell said the allegations were "lies" and said he denied them "utterly and totally".
Some time after the complaint was made a file was compiled on the complainant, who had been a wharfie, a convicted criminal and an alcoholic.
The details of the man's criminal history then appeared in a newspaper article.
Justice Southwell said in his findings that the "complainant's credibility was subjected to a forceful attack", however he found the complainant's evidence truthful.
He also found that George Pell's evidence was truthful.
George Pell returned to his role as Archbishop, saying "there's no mud to stick, I've been exonerated".
Complaints fall outside royal commission's terms of reference
In his statement, Cardinal Pell accused the ABC of a "scandalous smear campaign".
"If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the Royal Commission by now."
However, the royal commission advises that these sorts of allegations are outside its terms of reference, because it only investigates institutional responses to child abuse, and it refers any new complaints of clergy abuse to police.
It is expected to make findings on the Cardinal's evidence about his role in the Church's response to allegations of abuse by clergy in coming months.
Some of the behaviour alleged in the Taskforce SANO statements seen by 7.30 may not justify criminal charges, but does seem unusual and inappropriate for a senior priest.
The alleged behaviour raises serious questions about whether George Pell was ever an appropriate person to drive the Church's response to child sexual abuse.
Forensic psychologist and former priest, Terry Laidler, says it also raises questions over whether he should stand aside from his position at the centre of Church power in the Vatican.
"I think, like everyone, he's entitled to presumptions of innocence on criminal matters, to an assumption of goodwill on other matters," Mr Laidler said.
"But I think once something gets to the level of allegations that, on any reasonable standard, are worth giving some credit to, no, I think he's got to stand aside."
Fears asbestos sheets used at construction sites across country
This is just a stupid scare. It's only people working with raw asbestos fibres who have come to grief. Asbestos in wallboard is harmless. I sleep under a ceiling made of it every night. Almost any Australian home built in the '50s and '60s had some "fibro" in it (particularly as the internal walls) so we should have mass deaths from it if it is harmful. We have had none
A South Australian company that imported more than 8000 sheets of cement board containing asbestos from China is under investigation amid fears that its products are being used at construction sites across the nation and could expose workers to contamination.
It can be revealed that Australian Portable Camps, owned by Adelaide businessman Frank Martino, imported 8070 cement sheets into the country during 2010 and 2011, believing they were free of deadly asbestos.
The asbestos was not discovered in the sheets until late last year, sparking an investigation by the Australian Border Force and Safework SA that is yet to conclude. Industry sources believe the regulators are probing allegations that about 2000 of the tainted sheets were used to manufacture accommodation huts and other facilities at APC’s workshops outside Adelaide.
Companies that have awarded contracts to APC — including energy giant Chevron at its $US54 billion Gorgon gas plant in Western Australia — are being forced to conduct emergency testing for asbestos in response to the threat.
APC describes itself as the biggest supplier of portable accommodation facilities to major projects around Australia.
The company refused to say yesterday how many asbestos-tainted cement boards were used in its huts and declined to answer questions about whether it conducted tests on its imported products to ensure they were free of asbestos.
The company did say that “very little” of the 2010-11 shipment from China was used because it proved to be of inferior quality as a building product.
A spokeswoman for APC said once asbestos was confirmed late last year, the company quarantined the material in an earth bund at its Monarto headquarters. “We have been working co-operatively with SafeWork SA and the EPA to ensure the safe disposal of this material,” she said.
“In order to confirm the integrity of all other board products on our site, we have subsequently undertaken extensive comprehensive testing on these products, all of which have tested negative for the presence of asbestos.”
Asbestos imports were banned in Australia in 2003 but unions and business groups are alarmed at the rate at which the lethal substance is slipping into the country undetected.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is under pressure to ramp up efforts to stop asbestos at the border.
Discovery this month of asbestos at the Perth Children’s Hospital and the 1 William Street office tower in Brisbane — both in products sourced from China — has highlighted the problem.
South Australian senator Nick Xenophon yesterday called for jail terms for importers of asbestos products, amid revelations this week that only a handful of companies have been fined for the offence.
The construction union said it was highly concerned at the possibility APC’s contaminated products could be in use at dozens of sites across Australia. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s head of occupational health and safety, Brad Parker, said regulators had an obligation to reveal what they knew about the issue.
“In the interests of the Australian public they need to say what sort of investigation they are conducting and how much of this stuff is missing — where has it gone?” he said. “We want to know if our members were exposed.”
Chevron said yesterday it had been notified by APC recently that some of the cement sheeting at its Gorgon project on Barrow Island could contain asbestos.
“As a precautionary and immediate measure, we conducted independent testing, with all results confirming a negative reading,” a Chevron spokeswoman said. “The health and safety of our workforce is always of paramount concern.”
The CFMEU’s state secretary in Western Australia, Mick Buchan, said the union had raised its concerns about the health of workers on Barrow Island and he would not be satisfied with Chevron’s response until it provided the test results.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it could not comment on companies or individuals that may be under investigation, but the ABF’s s investigations division had six active investigations into asbestos-related matters.
The department defended itself against allegations it had allowed asbestos to enter the country too easily.
“There were 11 detections of asbestos-contaminated goods at the border over the last financial year from more than 1100 targeted high-risk shipments,” a spokesman said.
“Ensuring asbestos is not used domestically or imported into Australia is a collective responsibility for importers, industry and government agencies.”
Fine Arts student wonders why he can't get a job
Anybody who studies such a self-indulgent and impractical subject does not recommend himself to most employers. He'd get more offers if he said he was a taxi-driver
A 20-year-old university says he has applied for more than 500 jobs but has hardly received a single response.
Adam Bilkey, from Brisbane, said he is desperate for a job and has applied for positions as a cashier, a waiter, a cafe barista, a kitchen hand and in sales, according to The Courier Mail.
'I've applied for jobs as a dish washer but they want people under 19.'
'I know it's competitive. A lot of my friends have the same sorts of stories, but I kind of want feedback. I'd like more than a letter or nothing at all,' he said.
Mr Bilkey, a Fine Arts students, previously worked as a food and beverage assistant and has completed a barista course.
He completed an internship with a Brisbane radio station doing script writing and is now writing animal profiles as a volunteer with the RSPCA.
He is hoping to be hired as a copywriter or begin another internship, but is trying to earn money to pay for his studies in the meantime.
Mr Bilkey said he wants to get started on his career.
His mum, Anita Bilkey, told the Courier Mail that she is baffled by the lack of response to her son's efforts.
'There's a joke going around – junior wanted with 10 years' experience, gold medallist and super hero,' she said.
TV show is slammed online for a lack of diversity in the 'all white cast'
Why should it be diverse? It's job is to get viewers and whites are most likely to identified with in a majority-white country
The new series of The Bachelor Australia has been slammed online for a lack of diversity among its contestants. As the show kicked off, viewers took to the social media site to complain about the 'all white cast.'
Fans of The Bachelor were also left disappointed that there was a lack of 'good looking plus size women.'
Out of the final 22 Bachelorettes chosen to vow for The Bachelor's heart, there were plenty of blondes and brunettes, with super slender physiques, all preened to perfection.
Apart from Marja Jacobsen of Asian descent, the ladies vastly represented the Caucasian community.
As the highly awaited reality dating series premiered, viewers did not hold back.
One tweeted: 'One Asian. No obvious first Australians. Basically a whitewash! Not great.' Another commented: 'What you really want is the white rose. It represents an almost complete lack of cultural diversity this season.' While another wrote: 'But seriously, Australia is a multicultural society where were the coloured girls? Did they not it the brief?'
A busty bevy of beauties were revealed last night, all vying for the affections of Perth-based rope technician, Richie Strahan.
There were plenty of glamorous ladies including Playboy model Kirralee 'Kiki' Morris, who has a portfolio that extends to racy men's magazines such as Ralph and Zoo.
Lara Bingle lookalike Keira Maguire flaunted her stunning physique in a black lace gown with daring thigh slit.
While health and promotions officer and model Megan Marx ticked all the boxes when it came to the ideal of the perfect blonde bombshell.
Single mother Alexandra Nation dressed to impress in a glimmering emerald strapless frock that highlighted her lithe arms and delicate decolletage.
And Olena Khamula and Nikki Gogan both sported revealing numbers with plunging necklines.
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