Not one of the officers who rigged Pell brief has been sacked

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32 Responses to Not one of the officers who rigged Pell brief has been sacked

  1. C.L. says:

    A Catholic police officer who spent 36 years with the force has been sacked for “disgraceful or improper conduct” after posting online comments that allegedly disparaged the LGBTQ community.

    Sergeant Bruno Staffieri was found guilty of the misconduct charges by Victoria Police’s internal disciplinary panel. He was notified of his dismissal on Thursday morning.

    The 62-year-old released a statement to The Age, which said he would consider appealing the decision, but would never resile from his faith.

    “I’m obviously disappointed that I was dismissed after years of impeccable service, but I stand by my Christian beliefs,” the statement said.

    Staffieri was supported by the Australian Christian Lobby during the disciplinary hearing, which has become a test case for freedom of speech and the force’s recently revised social media policy, particularly for officers expressing religious or political opinions online.

    Carbone Lawyers managing partner Tony Carbone said there were obvious similarities between Staffieri’s dismissal and the termination of Israel Folau’s contract by Rugby Australia in 2019, after the former Wallaby star posted to social media that homosexuals, among others, would go to hell.

    “Whilst I do not agree with his [Staffieri] comments; as the circumstances here are comparable to Israel Folau, he could take the same legal path and launch a claim for wrongful dismissal against his employer in the Federal Court.

    “He [Staffieri] has the right to religious freedom like everybody else. Unfortunately as we do not have a Religious Bill, which makes the water very murky,” Carbone said.

    Folau reached a confidential settlement with Rugby Australia, including a significant payout, before releasing a joint statement that said his controversial social media commentary was based on “genuinely held religious beliefs”.

    Staffieri was investigated over 10 comments made on social media and the force’s internal communication platform, known as Yammer, some of which were allegedly critical of Victoria Police’s campaign to promote workplace equality for LGBTQ members.

    Staffieri, who was most recently based with the transit safety division, also found himself in hot water over his public criticism of the Andrews government’s decision to cancel Australia Day and Anzac Day celebrations in 2021, but allow the Gay Pride March in St Kilda to proceed.

    “So the next time Australians are sent out to fight a war, maybe we can send out the 8000 that marched today … and try to stop the enemy by waving feathers and brightly coloured boas at them,” he posted on May 17, 2021.

    The veteran officer had also infuriated Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson, the state’s second-highest ranking officer, who posted on Yammer in June 2021 that Victoria Police was proud to have been recognised as a silver employer at the 2021 Australian LGBTQ+ inclusion awards.

    Staffieri responded on June 23 by posting: “Yes I agree. Great achievement. But if the public knew how much time, effort and taxpayer dollars went into this, they would also be demanding why we didn’t get a gold.”

    Paterson defended the campaign and denied it had received significant public funding.

    Staffieri responded: “Sir, I totally value and respect your opinion and your rank, I simply ask that you value and respect mine.”

    Paterson replied: “I don’t respect or value your views as they are offensive and there is no place for those views in Victoria Police … Either limit your comments on Yammer to comments that are respectful of everyone or consider your employment options.”

    Staffieri was also investigated over a Facebook post in March last year regarding an ABC report on a teacher who founded a gay pride group for students at a Western Sydney school.

    “What a disgrace. Bad enough having gay, non-binary teachers, but to have them push their filth on students is a disgraceful crime. Why can’t we sack these teachers?” he posted.

    During a disciplinary hearing on February 2, Staffieri insisted he had never discriminated against the LGBTQ community.

    “I accept that the remaining Yammer comments and some LinkedIn comments were sarcastic and may have come across as dismissive or disrespectful (although that was not the intent),” Staffieri said in a submission presented to the disciplinary hearing.

    He accused senior figures in force command, including Paterson, of contributing to a “parochial, narrow-minded, intolerant culture within Victoria Police regarding perspectives on LGBTIQ morality and in doing so, have placed their own interests above the community good.”

    “I come from a very strong religious background and I take personal sufferance when people mock or deny my God and his teachings,” he said in the submission.

    A spokesman for The Police Association declined to comment.


    by Cameron Houston in The Age

  2. Rosie says:

    Staffieri was on a hiding to nothing regarding his employment but on what really matters he’s the clear winner.

  3. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “LGBTQ community”

    It’s official, we’re now living in a LGBTQ dictatorship. I’ve written a post for Dover’s blog which I hope he puts up later.

    And this is in this morning’s Daily Telegraph…

    “Kwik Kopy store in Sydney refuses to print posters for WorldPride roller derby event

    A Sydney business has come under fire for refusing to print posters for a WorldPride roller derby event due to the franchisee’s ‘Christian faith’.

    CBD printing business Kwik Kopy refused to print flyers for an official Pride Match roller derby event that is taking place on Friday night at the Hordern Pavilion on the basis of religious beliefs.

    The Kwik Kopy head office, which is the franchisor of 43 stores across Sydney, moved to make amends for the brewing scandal when contacted by The Daily Telegraph — as the Market Street franchisee doubled down on her stance.

    “We are into our 40th year of business and it has always been our aim to provide a consistent level of service and reliability. Leo, I am unable to print this job for you,” owner Wing Khong wrote in her original refusal email to the Sydney roller derby player.

    “I am a Christian and my faith requires me to obey what the Bible teaches. I hope you understand.”

    The 1984 Sex Discrimination Act states that it is illegal to refuse goods or services based on sexuality or gender.

    “I’m still processing it,” Roller Derby League skater Leo Bunch, 33, said.

    “It’s 2023, I just walked through two train stations absolutely smothered in Pride flags, and the content they weren’t happy to print was some logos for the different teams.”

    The Pride Match team names on the posters (Butches, Femmes, Rainbows, and Sparkles) are “tongue-in-cheek” references to gay stereotypes, given the sport’s popularity with queer women.

    “It’s common for fans to bring homemade signs, and for WorldPride we wanted to provide them,” Bunch continued.

    “There’s nothing particularly inflammatory, nothing sexual about them. I’m in shock.”

    When asked what material warranted the refusal, Khong said: “I have no comment to make other than to say we need to respect one another in the view and position we take.”

    However, Kwik Kopy Australia CEO Sonia Swabsky issued a swift and grovelling apology.

    “We are genuinely sorry for the recent experience Leo had at one of our centres,” she said.

    “This is by no means reflective of our values and code of conduct, of which every franchisee is versed. Our organisation embraces a richness of cultures, and a look into the make-up of our teams to reinforce our stance on diversity.”

    Swabsky also offered Bunch complimentary printing to support the event, and is “currently in direct discussions with the franchise owner involved”.

    Nicholas Stewart, partner at Dowson Turco Lawyers, has acted in large discrimination cases for the LGBTQ+ community. He said the incident may invoke Section 22 of Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act, which relates to the sale of goods or services.

    The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 states: “It is unlawful for a person who, whether for payment or not, provides goods or services, or makes facilities available, to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, or breastfeeding.”

    Stewart says that “generally, religious belief is not a defence to discrimination when it comes to the provision of goods and services in Australia”.

    The only circumstance in which a religious person or organisation has an exemption, he added, “is when they have a religious body and the conduct relates to them offering their religious services or premises to people, and then of course in schools”.

    He continued: “Incidents of alleged LGBTQ discrimination … enlivens the debate about whether people with religious views or affiliations should have the right to determine who they trade with in commerce.”

    It’s his view that “no human right is superior, we are all equal under international human rights law”.

    Mr Stewart said he believed people of religious faiths should also have protection when buying goods and services.

    Bunch and her teammate Vanessa Peterson, 46, would prefer any intensity involving their sport to happen with skates on.

    “I’m white and cisgender, so I don’t cop a lot of this,” Bunch said.

    “But unfortunately there are some people out there holding onto some things that they’re not often saying out loud.””

    The comment above by Bunch..”“I’m still processing it,”, yes I’m still processing how a push for tolerance has become a dystopian totalitarian nightmare where we are ALL now subject to LGBTQI+ fascism and grooming.

  4. Entropy says:

    It isn’t enough that you are tolerant of whatever people get up to, or floats their boat; you are required to celebrate it, like it is some kind of prize or aspiration.

    And if you don’t step up and hail and praise the righthink, you are unpersonned.

  5. Christine says:

    “….things they’re not often saying out loud…..”

    LGB+s resent being quietly tolerated; hate silent disapproval

    Enthusiastic approval is the goal

  6. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “Enthusiastic approval is the goal”

    I also think enthusiastic participation is the goal, including by children.

  7. Old Lefty says:

    This just confirms what we already knew about Yarragrad’s corrupt and politically prostituted Stalinist abortion of a police farce.

  8. C.L. says:

    In fact, of course, the high-ranking officers who rigged the Pell brief shouldn’t merely be sacked. They should be in jail.

  9. Perplexed of Brisbane says:

    While it is frustrating that we are never likely to see true justice on earth, except in rare break throughs.

    It is satisfying that we, including Sgt Staffieri will see eternal and complete justice meted out one day.

  10. Rosie says:

    I remember saying when same sex ‘marriage’ was ‘legalised’ they wouldn’t rest until they were walking down the aisle in Catholic churches with Catholic parishioners forced to attend, smiling and applauding.

  11. SydGal says:

    In March 2018, the NY Times had a piece about the VicPol senior officer angling his body and eyes away from R Richter when being questioned in Court. Vic Pol legal bills have been high – story in the Aust Nov 2021: “Victoria Police spent $31m on lawyers as part of a $200m bill racked up by the force on consultants and contractors in a year.

    Police financial records for 2020-21 released to The Australian reveal big spending on lawyers from some of Australia’s biggest law firms, including a $13.4m bill for services provided by Corrs Chambers Westgarth and $10.3m charge from the Victorian Government Solicitors Office.”

    Wasn’t Corrs the firm who in July 2022 said they would no longer represent the Catholic Church in CSA matters? The Church had been a client for 60 years.

  12. C.L. says:

    Remember how NSW Police facilitated gay terrorism at Cardinal Pell’s funeral?

    Are you paying attention yet?

  13. Lee says:

    Don’t forget the corrupt Lawyer X scandal, in which high level VicPol officers were involved, and from which there don’t seem to have been any punitive consequences.

    Thou shalt not merely not blaspheme against gays, but must acknowledge and worship their “cause.”

  14. Syd Gal says:

    The Vic Pol senior officer who spoke at Court was also the hero cop in the Underbelly TV series on the Silk-Miller police officer murders. Jason Roberts was acquitted last year after serving over 20 years in jail. The Herald Sun reported last year that he and Cardinal Pell spoke while in Barwon Prison.

    The Lawyer X RC also revealed that Vic Pol had been substituting original witness statements with secondary statements (which became the original statement).

    Regarding the protesters at Cardinal Pell’s funeral, they did not seem to be aware of the results of Vic Pol’s Operation Plangere report “quietly submitted” to the RC in May 2015 and reported in the media in July 2015 – which substantiated 1 suicide only due to clergy CSA. Milligan told the Adelaide Writers Festival in 2020 that that was Emma Foster (in Melbourne). Pauline Pantsdown who started tying ribbons at the Cathedral said he was not a victim of clergy CSA and the second person from Ballarat had told the RC in 2015 that 3 family members had suicided due to Huntington’s Disease. The chair of Loudfence is the sister of one of the swimming pool complainants and the founder is a supporter of the National Secular Lobby. On 4 July 2015 The Royal Commissioner briefed journalists at a CLAN meeting on what the ribbons meant. Interestingly at a panel discussion at the Uni of Canberra last year, the founder said they had the discussion about what colour ribbons and they decided on “assortment of colours”.

    Regarding the RC into Institutional Responses to CSA and extensive media coverage of the findings following the death of Cardinal Pell, after reading many exhibits and transcripts on the RC website, it’s hard to understand some of the ‘findings’. Another RC has been in the news in relation to a defamation case against publisher HarperCollins and journalist Steve Cannane over his 2016 book, Fair Game.

    From ABC Media Watch July 2022: “Cannane’s defence did the same and Justice (Jayne) Jagot accepted the argument, finding: Mr Cannane was entitled to treat these sources of information as authoritative and unimpeachable.
    – Federal Court of Australia, Herron v HarperCollins, 25 November, 2020″
    Justice Jagot had agreed, finding:

    … this was a rare case in which it was simply unnecessary to give the applicants any further opportunity to attempt to rewrite history.”

    Media Watch said: “The full bench of the Federal Court savaged the original judgment and ruled that two deep sleep doctors at Chelmsford — John Gill and John Herron, who died last year — were defamed by Cannane and that two of his defences of truth and qualified privilege had failed.

    Defamation expert Dr Matt Collins QC told Media Watch: “However distinguished a Royal Commission may be, experience has shown that clear or conclusive findings that one makes often are not vindicated in subsequent judicial proceedings, whether criminal or civil”.

    There are a few news reports about today’s High Court case: “HarperCollins has failed in a bid to have Australia’s highest court rule on legal issues in a defamation case over controversial psychiatric treatments at Sydney’s Chelmsford private hospital. The high court on Friday refused special leave to appeal two aspects of a federal court decision overturning an earlier judgment. That earlier judgment found claims in Steve Cannane’s book Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia were substantially true”.

  15. Cassie of Sydney says:

    Love your work Syd Gal.

  16. Syd Gal says:

    With reference to J Roberts, in the second-half of his Prison Journal Vol 3, Cardinal Pell referred to a “Derek” who had been kind to him in prison.

    J Jagot is now on the High Court. The AFR had a story on the vacancy in Sept 2022 “Jagot was the pick of the profession for the Bell vacancy but was overlooked in favour of Jacqueline Gleeson, It is in her favour that she was appointed by Labor in 2008, having started her judicial career on the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2006. She is married to child sexual abuse royal commissioner Peter McClellan”.

    Prof J Gans from Uni of Melbourne has tweeted today that there is no special leave in the Chelmsford case and linked to a Yahoo story:

    “In April last year three judges on the Full Court of the Federal Court found Dr Gill was entitled to a retrial, citing errors at the defamation trial in allowing the admission of evidence from “dead experts”.

    Justice Steven Rares noted problems with the use at trial of evidence given to the royal commission under compulsion, with the trial judge failing to correctly address “the admissibility or any need to exclude or make any limitation on” its use.

    “It is impossible on the appeal to re-evaluate those issues, not least because they permeated the whole conduct of the trial,” Justice Rares said.

    “The orders made by the primary judge dismissing both proceedings below with costs should be set aside and there should be a new trial of the proceeding brought by Dr Gill.”

    HarperCollins wanted the High Court to overturn the Full Court’s conclusions on the publisher’s qualified privilege defence and admissibility of evidence derived from the royal commission.

    Justice Robert Bromwich, who’ll preside over the retrial from July 3, said in a December judgment the hearing will be confined to the publisher’s defence of substantial truth for several defamatory imputations and mitigation of damages.

    HarperCollins has admitted Dr Gill was entitled to damages for one imputation, the judge said.”

    With respect to the “findings” of the RC and some of the RC’s inconsistencies, G Henderson has a segment about this in today’s online Media Watchdog, as follows:

    “Pell attended his first consultors’ meeting on 19 July 1977. Also present were Fr Madden and Fr McInerney. At this meeting, a decision was made to appoint Ridsdale to the position of parish priest of Edenhope (previously he was acting in this position). The Royal Commission found that it was “inconceivable” that Pell, Madden and McInerney “did not know by this time” that Ridsdale was a pedophile. (Page 267 of Case Study No 28) – since this would have been discussed at the consultors’ meeting.
    However, earlier, the Royal Commission had accepted Fr Madden’s evidence that he did not know of Ridsdale’s offending until 1988 (Page 174, Case Study No 28). And the Royal Commission did not challenge Fr McInerney’s statement that he did not find out about Ridsdale’s crimes until early 1993 (Page 74, Case Study No 28).

    A significant contradiction – since Pell was present at both meetings. In effect The Royal Commission found that Pell had heard Mulkearns’ reference to Ridsdale’s offending – but not Madden or McInerney. A most implausible allegation”.

    The Royal Commission cost $342 Million (budget in Vol 1 of Report).

  17. Baba says:

    Syd Gal !!!

  18. C.L. says:

    In effect The Royal Commission found that Pell had heard Mulkearns’ reference to Ridsdale’s offending – but not Madden or McInerney. A most implausible allegation”.

    In effect, that is, the Royal Commission lied.

  19. Buccaneer says:

    Quelle surprise, if teh royal commission genuinely wanted to root and branch find child sex offenders it would have looked at indigenous communities, public schools and the Islamic community first.

  20. Franx says:

    Quelle surprise, if teh royal commission genuinely wanted to root and branch find child sex offenders it would have looked at indigenous communities, public schools and the Islamic community first.

    Even if the Royal Commission had done so, it would still have come to focus on and enact its collective prejudice against the Church. I mean, a decent and honest man such as O’Callaghan was himself and his comments belittled for his having been a ‘cradle Catholic’.

  21. Entropy says:

    The school our kids went to (private, non Catholic) in primary was also subject to RC hearings (if that is the word). I guess though the reasons the incident did not get the same level of public attention is it wasn’t a catholic priest, the kid was a 16 year old girl, and the new teacher was hetero and a fan of Nabokov.

    OK the last bit was a poor taste joke: the young teacher groomed her, plain and simple. The school did report him, supported the girl’s parents (the girl didn’t want to do anything to him at the time as she was in love) and he was convicted and gaoled. On release the same school system gave him a non teaching role away from kids, I think it was cleaning toilets in head office or similar. The point is as a Christian outfit they believed in and acted on redemption. The RC was interested in why the teacher was still employed at all.

    But overall, not Catholic.

  22. Syd Gal says:

    Entropy – the stories about the non-Catholic schools did not seem to get the same media attention (based on what I can read, as I did not follow the Royal Commission at the time. The RC was announced Nov 2012 – video of JG still online – and appears to have still been spending funds up to mid 2018). It certainly was long running and interesting the CEO of the RC is now the CEO of NSW ICAC where we are also awaiting a long running report.

    Following Cardinal Pell’s death, Milligan, the Guardian journalists and others have focussed stories on Fr Peter Searson whose historic 1970s complainant information was missing from the RC website and senior Vic Pol Officer Fontana was unable to locate any retired police officer with information when twice called by the RC. As per exhibits on the RC website, the main complainant against Searson had disclosed familial CSA – again not widely reported and I don’t think it was covered in Milligan’s TV programs. The 1989 grievance list from teachers – presented to Cardinal Pell – was about HR matters, eg staff felt pressured to attend daily mass, Searson cut down shade trees, allowed his dog on the school grounds, he turned off lights to save money.
    The RC seemed to focus on “cover-up” and Witness J’s spokesperson lawyer said in May 2020 that the RC “findings” would assist the civil claims to progress through the Courts. This seems all very reminiscent of Higgins matters too.

    Regarding Ballarat, Cardinal Pell issued a statement on 20 May 2015 at the time of the hearings which included: “Like everyone who has been following the Royal Commission’s hearings in Ballarat this week, I have been horrified once again by survivors’
    accounts of the abuse they have suffered. Also the terrible impact it has
    had on their lives and families and the Catholic community of Ballarat.
    The suicide of so many victims is an enormous tragedy. The crimes
    committed against them by priests and brothers are profoundly evil and
    completely repugnant to me.”

    John Ferguson in The Australian reported on the results of Vic Pol’s Operation Plangere in July 2015 – it substantiated only one suicide due to clergy CSA. Ferguson said the Operation Plangere report had been “quietly submitted” to the RC in May 2015. I wonder if that was early May or late May 2015?

  23. Entropy says:

    That is pretty bad, Sydgirl.

    To this day I am surprised people think RCs are the answer to problems. In my own field the bushfire RC was a total travesty and power grab, both in process but especially failures by particularly Victoria (even mainly) in natural disaster response do not justify a power grab by the feds, which has even less capacity or capability behind throwing cash about.

  24. Entropy says:

    Beyond throwing cash about.

  25. Franx says:

    Searson was not a ‘likeable personality’.
    He had been maligned, and for a very long time. Even from his early days as a Brother, teaching in country Vitoria, his out-of-control students managed to run him out of town, and they have since written about their success. Meanwhile, Searson joined the priesthood.
    And yes, the teachers where Searson was PP complained in every direction (as had his former curate of another parish who unbeknownst to Searson was reporting on him), yet when Pell tried to address their complaints, the teachers decided that, really, they, would prefer to let things be, meaning that Pell could take no remedial action, were it needed.

    As well as being relentlessly reported to and investigated by the Catholic schools office and being found not in breach, Searson was also reported to and investigated by the local police about complaints which were circling in the local area to do with paedophile groups. Searson was found to have had nothing to with such groups but was himself aware that the insidious groups had tentacles everywhere, most likely making him even more of a target. One police report in the process of investigating Searson quotes another person at interview who says hers was the only paedophile group in the area. Yet it was Searson who was the focus of the investigation.

    Incidentally, Searson’s difficult personality, even while he was under investigation by the Melbourne Response, was not something that influenced BA Santamaria who remained supportive of Searson.

    And as for removing Searson, it was Canon Law which ultimately enabled Pell (only after he himself became Archbishop) to remove Searson – something about Canon Law requiring that a priest be not intensely disliked.

  26. Franx says:

    I had not realised until SydGal mentioned Milligan’s continuing attacks on Pell via Searson, that Milligan, upon Pell’s passing, has reported on the woman Julie Stewart continuing to insinuate (unlike Milligan who claims) to have been sexually assaulted by Searson when attending confession as a primary school student.


    I can still picture the clip-clopping of Julie’s little shoes, her long braids flying in the wind, as she raced out of the confessional into the arms of her principal Graeme Sleeman, after Searson had used the blessed sacrament to sexually abuse her.

    Well, no. That picture is a fake

    Milligan might care to know and to discuss the truth, that the girl did not run to Sleeman who only became aware later and only then began to claim, typically, a central saving role. Nor was it clear that the girl was seen to run to any teacher in particular, since the alleged incident became one that was retold by several teachers who were not actually witness to any such event.

    And as also noted by SydGal, Julie Stewart’s parents knew – quite some time prior to any confessional allegation – that the girl had been sexually abused by man who had had her on his knee. Later, however it is Father Searson who is accused of abusing her while having her on his knee. And the allegation varies from having occurred in either grade three or grade four. Following more than one police interview and an indefinite and even exculpatory statement by the girl, the police concluded that there was no case against Searson.

    In other ways, too, Milligan’s limited knowledge and false representations continue in her reference to confession as ‘the blessed sacrament’ – a sacrament very different from the sacrament of penance. Available to all.

    Apologies for the length and any irrelevance.

  27. Syd Gal says:

    Thank you, Franx. I also apologise for extended comments on Cardinal Pell’s case and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but I don’t know where else to share some of my own “findings” and concerns. From time to time, I write to some people who I think might be interested but most times I don’t hear back. As someone commented in The Australian recently, perhaps there needs to be a Royal Commission into that Royal Commission!

    Sometimes I’ve wondered whether Milligan was brought in to write her books and make her TV shows (following on from Sally Neighbour before she became an ABC producer) to bolster some of the problems with testimony given by some of the complainants in relation to the 1996 Melbourne Response (which by-passed law compensation firms, the original upper limit of $50,000 in 1996 is about $95,000 in today’s $ and the Dec 2022 average payment of the National Redress Scheme was $87,000), at the Vic Parliamentary Inquiry (although I have not looked into that in great detail, just a few transcripts and videos), the RC and in the Cathedral and swimming pool allegations. A view of the 12 March 2020 video Pell v The Queen on the High Court of Australia website for about 25 mins from 2:50 into the video reveals the problems with the wine evidence. DPP Director K Judd reading out a passage in relation to Witness J – redacted from the transcript but not the video.

    Regarding the Royal Commission and the Fr Peter Searson/Julie Stewart matters (she had featured in numerous TV shows, as has the principal G Sleeman -Milligan facilitated a reunion recently), there is an exhibit – handwritten notes from a teacher at the time – that Stewart was abused by a family member in 1983/4 and then alleged abuse by Searson during confession in 1985 when she rushed out of the room. The teacher’s notes include whether there was emotional trauma on the child or if she had a vivid imagination and had linked two incidents.

    It was interesting that in recent times, Searson/Doveton has been the focus of Milligan in her ABC stories such as the one mentioned by Franx above (12 Jan online) rather than Ridsdale/Ballarat. On 14 Jan, Milligan also wrote a piece for The Saturday Paper “The child abuse cases for which George Pell was never tried” which focused on “Bernie” – who appeared in the ABC Revelations documentary (Cardinal Pell writes in his Prison Journal about watching that show in Prison and recognising Bernie’s voice – from the Committal, I think). Milligan’s employs the same style and imagery as highlighted above in Franx’s comment: “They were once little boys who ran around playgrounds like Ballarat’s St Alipius, the wind in their faces.”

    Perhaps there is less reference to Ballarat because of some awkward issues – eg Vic Pol’s Operation Plangere Report substantiated only 1 suicide due to clergy CSA – Emma Foster in Melbourne, as per Louise Milligan’s online audio at the 2020 Adelaide Writers Festival. And the fact that the Chair of LoudFence Ribbon movement is the sister of one of the swimming pool complainants (she also seems to have a managerial role in the Vic National Redress Scheme). And a Ridsdale complainant who appeared in ABC Revelations, along with his lawyer J Courtin, also appears to have defrauded his employer $195,000 in 2013, spent money spent at the TAB, had a mental health crisis, threatened to kill a doctor (all as per a news report), reported his abuse by Ridsdale to the RC in 2015 and then received a landmark settlement by the Catholic Church in 2018. Perhaps a reference in the Nov 2019 Surf Coast Times story: The case “JCB v Bishop Paul Bird” marks what the lawyers involved believe to be the first time in Victoria, if not Australia, that the Catholic Church has given an admission of liability in a civil proceeding for the abuse committed by one of its priests.”

    Cardinal Pell’s brother, David, mentioned a Ballarat Survivor in his Eulogy at Cardinal Pell’s funeral –
    “At the end of the Commission’s hearings in Rome, George met with the victims, the Ballarat victims and families, privately. George stated that it was very emotional, and many hugged him. The now-disgraced leader of that group apologised to him. ‘Sorry George for what we did to you. We had to use your help to achieve our cause’.”

    I wonder what that last sentence means?

    Soon after that, Andrew Collins became the spokesperson for the Ballarat Survivor Group.

    Collins wrote a long piece on 12 Feb in Crikey which included:

    Sorry George for what we did to you”. We did nothing to Pell. He was a witness called to give evidence to the Royal Commission, just as we were. When Pell said that he was unable to travel to Australia for health reasons, we asked the Royal Commission for permission to go to Rome and for the hearings to be public rather than just done over video. We argued that we had to give evidence in public, in front of a room full of people. That was hard. It was stressful. We thought that he should have to do so under the same conditions. The Royal Commission agreed.


    David started contacting those survivors who went to Rome. He told them that the money left should have been distributed to them. He told them that Peter and I had taken it ourselves. We started getting calls from them abusing us and one threatened to “hit us on the head with an iron bar” if he saw us again. Another said that he wanted that money and that he needed it and deserved it.

    A Collins submitted a statement to the RC 29 April 2015 which included:

    A journalist from the Ballarat Courier told me that my mother went to their office with my sister, and said that if they published my name in the paper anymore she would sue them. She said I was a liar who had made everything up and was destroying their reputation.

    My father said to me, ‘Andrew, I think it is time you drop all this stuff It is causing embarrassment for the family every time you’re in the paper and you’ve got it all wrong, the church has nothing to be ashamed for and you just need to stop this.’ I told him that wasn’t going to happen, and he stopped speaking to me as well.


  28. Rosie says:

    Syd Gal
    I’m getting the impression Fr Searson may have been unjustly smeared?

  29. C.L. says:

    No need to apologise, Syd Gal.
    Your summaries are brilliant and much appreciated.

    The fact that the Pell lynching (including the collusion that occurred between bent police and vigilante journalists) hasn’t been examined by an inquiry is itself a disgrace. Nor has a single investigative reporter looked into any of the details – including why the perjurer at the centre of it all did what he did.

    The problem is that we need a Liberal government to act and that means an inquiry will never happen.

  30. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “I also apologise for extended comments on Cardinal Pell’s case and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but I don’t know where else to share some of my own “findings” and concerns. “

    Please do not apologise. Your contributions here are fantastic.

  31. Syd Gal says:

    Thank you, C.L and Cassie.

    I highly recommend Chris Friel’s articles, and books by Keith Windschuttle (The Persecution of George Pell), Gerard Henderson (Cardinal Pell, the Media Pile on and Collective Guilt), Cardinal Pell’s Prison Journal Vols -1-3 and the article Was the Royal Commission hand in glove with the “Get Pell” campaign? A close study of its “findings” reveals serious flaws” by M McAuley.

    Rosie – yes, based on the exhibits on the RC website, I think Searson was unjustly smeared in relation to CSA. However, I think he was a difficult person, perhaps rather old fashioned and conservative, a number of teachers and students at Doveton did not like him and perhaps wanted him out of the parish. There was a young curate too, who lived with Searson at Sunbury, before Doveton, and they did not get on. Interestingly that curate also lived with another priest discussed at the RC – Wilfrid Baker – same problem for the curate. According to exhibits on the RC website, that young priest was visiting Broken Rites and meeting with other high profile victims in cafes in the mid-90s. He met a woman in a parish and left the priesthood to marry her. Cardinal Pell was very generous in allowing him to stay in church accommodation until he started his new life (this is all in the documentation). That person received a payout from the Melbourne Response for the stress of living with Searson and Baker, and, according to minutes from the Vic Parliamentary Inquiry, I think he also had a civil claim in progress at the time which he did not want to discuss.

    My issues with the RC report on Searson
    1974 Villa Maria incident – VicPol statement is missing from the RC website and Vic Pol officers could not shed any light on the alleged incident.

    Yet the Royal Commissioners state “We accept the woman’s account as provided to police. We are satisfied that sometime around late 1974 Archbishop Little received a complaint that Father Searson had raped a young adult woman”.

    – The complainant BVC (who as not cross examined) gave an account of his abuse in the 1990s but I found the idea that Searson would let him order Communion hosts over the telephone and give him candy quite at odds with teacher descriptions of Searson as controlling and tight with money. And it seemed strange that Doveton teachers would let BVC do gardening at the Presbytery in the 90s if they had concerns about Searson’s behaviour from the mid-late 80s.

    -The Julie Stewart matters – I don’t think the RC reveal that she suffered familial CSA in 1984/5 as per exhibits on the website.

    There is an article online The Mad Priest and the Campaign to Get George Pell with more information about Searson. According to this article, the 1974 incident was not prosecuted because the Public Prosecutor considered the accusations a fabrication.

    All the victims’ narratives on the RC site have the following disclaimer next to them:
    Disclaimer: This is the story of a person who spoke with a Commissioner during a private session of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Real names of individuals have not been used, except of public figures in a public context. The information the person provided was not evidence, the person was not a witness, and did not need to take an oath or affirmation, although they were expected to tell the truth. Nothing in this story is a finding of the Royal Commission and any views expressed are those of the person, not of the Commissioners.

    An Australian Research Council grant for almost $300,000 was awarded to a team of University of Canberra researchers in 2019 to research the role of journalism
    and social media advocacy in triggering, reporting on, and keeping alive the recommendations of the groundbreaking Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse :

    The final report is on the LoudFence (the Ribbon group) website and includes the following information:
    A team of creative writers and journalists was employed to synthesise and write up the de-identified testimony. Simply titled ‘Narratives’, this section of the RCRICSA Final Report captures 3,949 individual stories and provides some of the most compelling insights into the historical and contemporary experience of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions.

    I’m not sure if the creative writers and journalists were part of this component of the overall budget of $342.3 million as listed in Vol 1 Report on the RC website.

    Private sessions: $67.6 million over the life of the Royal Commission (20 per cent of
    total expenditure). Expenditure included the cost of managing call centre services and
    survivor correspondence, and all costs related to facilitating and conducting private
    sessions. This included Commissioner and related staff costs; participant travel costs;
    costs associated with collecting witness statements; counselling and support services
    for witnesses; venue hire and logistical costs; IT and transcription services; and media
    costs including associated advertising and communication materials.

    Line item notes also include the following:
    . Includes travel-related expenditure for private sessions participants and travel and loss of wages entitlements to witnesses appearing before a public hearing. The Attorney-General’s Department offered legal financial assistance to witnesses requiring a lawyer to prepare witness statements

    I’m still wondering about the “cause” of the Ballarat Survivor Group as mentioned by David Pell in relation to David Ridsdale (although not named) in Cardinal Pell’s eulogy – Compensation for victims or funding of support groups? The alleged ‘cover-up’ by senior clergy so that the civil claims proving breach of duty can progress through the Courts (Witness J’s lawyer spokesperson V Waller mentioned this specifically on ABC radio soon after the redacted reports were released), LGBTQI+ issues or National Secular Lobby issues?

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