Cardinal George Pell’s imprisonment is revealed in memoirs
During his 13 months in solitary confinement, Cardinal George Pell all but lost hope of appealing his sentence, but encouragement came from an unlikely source — the prison boss.
Pell, who died overnight at the Vatican at the age of 81, revealed this in his three-volume memoir Prison Journal, which recounts his experiences in two Victorian prisons before the Supreme Court overturned his 2020 child sex offenses conviction.
After losing an appeal against his six-year conviction in Victoria’s Supreme Court, Pell said he had considered not appealing to the High Court, although he has always maintained his innocence.
He explained that judges would “just close ranks” and that he did not want to take part in an “expensive charade”.
Cardinal George Pell (centre), who died overnight at the Vatican at the age of 81, is being court ordered to serve a six-month sentence for child sex abuse
However, he says the “boss” of Melbourne Assessment Prison – who was “a bigger man than me and a straight shooter” – pushed him to keep appealing.
“I was encouraged and grateful to him,” he wrote.
After his conviction in March 2019, Pell was forced to give up his church robes for a green prison uniform tracksuit, although he was later given a red one at Barwon prison in recognition of his cardinal rank.
At Melbourne prison, where he spent 10 months, Pell was held in solitary confinement on the same ward as 11 other inmates, whom he never saw – but certainly heard from down the corridor.
Pell (pictured center front) arrives at County Court in Melbourne in 2016 as he battled child sex abuse charges which later sentenced him to 13 months in prison before all convictions were overturned by the High Court
“I have the toorak end, named after a wealthy Melbourne suburb, exactly the same as the loud end but generally devoid of the bangs and roars,” he wrote.
The former Archbishop of Melbourne said he was amazed “how long they could bang their fists, but one warden explained that they kicked like horses”.
“Some flooded or polluted their cells,” he wrote.
“Sometimes the dog unit was called or someone had to be gassed. My first night I thought I heard a woman cry; another prisoner called for his mother.’
As a convicted sex offender, Pell was separated from other prisoners for his safety but was confronted once in person.
Melbourne’s Judgment Prison where Cardinal George Pell spent 10 months in solitary confinement
Training alone during one of his two half-hour breaks allowed outside, he was walking around a walled courtyard when he passed an opening at head height.
“Someone spat at me through the open shutter flywire and started judging me,” Pell wrote.
“It was a total surprise so I returned to the window angrily to confront and reprimand my attacker.
“He raced out of my sight from the front line but continued to condemn me as ‘black spider’ and other less than complimentary terms.”
After Pell told guards he would not go back into the yard if the “young delinquent” was next door, Pell was told the inmate had been moved because he had done something “worse to another prisoner.”
During the nearly 16-hour lockdown in his spare cell, which contained only a shower, desk and bed, Pell said he heard other prisoners mistreat him but also some “violent” arguments over whether he was guilty.
According to Pell, one of the guards, the consensus among “career criminals,” said he was “spied on.”
The warden added, “It’s strange that criminals can see the truth but judges can’t,” Pell said.
Cardinal George Pell arrives at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney after the Supreme Court acquitted him of the child molestation convictions that landed him behind bars
“Most of the guards at both prisons accepted my innocence,” Pell writes, and he said even the guards who were hostile to him acted professionally.
Although his faith in Australia’s criminal justice system was shaken, Pell wrote that his Christian faith was not during his incarceration.
“I have never felt abandoned because I knew the Lord was with me—even though I didn’t understand what He was doing for most of the 13 months,” he wrote.
He even discovered some redeeming features of life within, despite the humiliations of being searched and even being denied a simple request for a broom to sweep his cell.
“Prison life eliminated any excuse for being too busy to pray, and my regular prayer schedule sustained me,” he wrote.
When he saw a former resident scrawl the word “home” on his cell’s window, he wondered if it was meant to be a bitter lament.
“I suspect not as this is my home at the moment and it’s not a terrible place,” he wrote.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11621341/Cardinal-George-Pell-jail-time-revealed-memoirs.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Cardinal George Pell’s imprisonment is revealed in memoirs