In the case of Australian Cardinal George Pell, convicted of abuse, his defense attorney moves into the headlines. He had downplayed sexual assault of minors as "flower sex". Now comes his apology.
The defense attorney for Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted of abuse, Robert Richter, has publicly apologized for downplaying sexual assaults on minors as "flower sex".
"Totally inappropriate choice of words"
"In an effort to obtain a lenient sentence, I used a completely inappropriate choice of words, for which I deeply apologize to all who interpreted it in a way it was never meant," a statement from Judge on Thursday reads.
At the post-conviction hearing to determine the appropriate sentence based on the verdict, counsel had argued that these crimes were nothing more than a mere case of "plain vanilla sex". In court, the lawyer had also stressed that his client deserved only a light sentence, aming that the sexual assaults had lasted "less than six minutes" and that there had been no ejaculation.
Still convinced of Pell's innocence
Even if the attorney remains convinced of his client's innocence, at the hearing on what prison sentence is appropriate, he must first proceed on the basis of the court's finding of guilt and attempt to obtain the most lenient sentence possible for the judicially recognized offense.
He never meant to "trivialize" the suffering and injuries of abuse victims, judge writes further. Rather, the "seriousness of the crime" had been acknowledged from the beginning by the "admission" that a "prison sentence was warranted" for it.
The 77-year-old Pell had been convicted of abuse. The Melbourne court considered it proven that in the mid-1990s he had committed sexual abuse against two boys who were 13 years old at the time of the crime.
Sentencing to be announced by mid-March. Pell was transferred to a Melbourne prison on Wednesday. Attorney Richter has appealed the verdict.
The cardinal's conviction based on the testimony of a single victim has caused controversy in Australia. Some commentators criticized the guilty verdict as a blatant miscarriage of justice and claimed Pell's innocence. In a similar way to the defense counsel before the guilty verdict, they tried to explain why there could not have been any assaults at all.
Louise Milligan, author of the book "Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell," on the other hand, defended the credibility of the publicly unidentified plaintiff. Milligan had interviewed the man for her book, making her one of the few people to know his identity. "He has nothing to gain from this [the lawsuit], but everything to lose," she told the TV political magazine "7.30".
In early 2018, Pell's defenders had been given access to the extensive interviews and video footage Milligan recorded while researching her book. The book was published before Pell was indicted and was withdrawn from circulation after the indictment was handed down.