Content warning: This article discusses child sexual abuse.

Convicted racist Andrew Bolt has taken to his blog to state that, in his opinion, Cardinal George Pell is innocent of the five child sex offences of which he has been convicted.

Pell was convicted last December, but the news only surfaced in outlets in Australia today after a suppression order issued by Judge Peter Kidd was dropped as a result of a pending second trial against Pell no longer going ahead.

Earlier today, Bolt indicated in his column that he would be speaking on his Sky News show this evening about why he believed that Pell “should not have been convicted“, a wording that was swiftly updated to a much less definitive “why [he is] amazed” that Pell was convicted:

A few hours later, after some no doubt very furious typing, Bolt came out with a column under the much more blunt title: “Why Pell has been falsely convicted“.

Bolt’s position on Pell and the accusations (now convictions) against him is not exactly a secret. In June of 2017, Bolt opined in his extremely shouty all-caps fashion: “PELL CHARGED. BUT WHAT HOPE OF A FAIR TRIAL?” A month later, Bolt screamed asked: “IS PELL FACING A SHOW TRIAL?” Prior to both of those, he stated quite simply: “MEMO TO VIC POLICE: DON’T CONVICT PELL”. But it’s still somewhat surprising just how hard he came out swinging for Pell despite the court’s decision.

In an article that (presumably for legal reasons) has Bolt state four times that it is just his opinion, Bolt says that he believes that Pell has been convicted as a result of people’s feelings about the church, not because of what he did:

It adds up to this: Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, has been made to pay for the sins of his church and a media campaign of vilification.

He is a scapegoat, not a child abuser. In my opinion.

Bolt goes on to stress that he personally is not religious and has only met Pell around five times, although in his latest column and in the past he has used his supposed knowledge of Pell to dismiss the allegations against him. This time, he claims that he knows Pell to be too smart to commit child sex offences in public, where he could be caught:

On top of that, the man I know seems not just incapable of such abuse, but so intelligent and cautious that he would never risk his brilliant career and good name on such a mad assault in such a public place.

Bolt also suggests that Pell might have been falsely accused because he is conservative:

But Pell has been accused very often of serious offences by people who were plainly wrong. Maybe they misremembered. Maybe they had the wrong guy.

Or maybe they were looking for someone to pay for some past trauma, and chose the man that the media has vilified ever since he emerged as the Church’s most articulate — and conservative — advocate in this country.

Bolt’s column was not the only opinion piece put out by News Corp insisting on Pell’s innocence. Jesuit priest Father Frank Brennan penned a lengthy article in which he primarily suggested that the case against Pell was implausible because of the construction of priestly gowns:

Witnesses familiar with liturgical vestments had been called who gave compelling evidence that it was impossible to produce an erect penis through a seamless alb. An alb is a long robe, worn under a heavier chasuble. It is secured and set in place by a cincture which is like a tightly drawn belt. An alb cannot be unbuttoned or unzipped, the only openings being small slits on the side to allow access to trouser pockets underneath. The complainant’s initial claim to police was that Pell had parted his vestments, but an alb cannot be parted; it is like a seamless dress.

Later, the complainant said that Pell moved the vestments to the side. An alb secured with a cincture cannot be moved to the side. The police never inspected the vestments during their investigations, nor did the prosecution show that the vestments could be parted or moved to the side as the complainant had alleged. The proposition that the offences charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed Archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed incredible to my mind.

Pell  will be remanded in custody prior to a pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday. He will likely be sentenced in the fortnight after that hearing. Pell’s lawyers have lodged an appeal against the verdict.

I’ll leave you with this:

Image: Getty Images / Michael Dodge