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In search of a complete picture in the Pell case

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Pity the three judges in Victoria’s Supreme Court who last week heard Cardinal George Pell’s two-day appeal against his child sex convictions while a stationary video cam focused on the bench. Even the most conscientious, poker-faced jurist would feel the urge to yawn or shut their eyes in meditative contemplation. Yet each time I dipped into the livestream their honours were a tableau of composure.

The only moment of high drama was when the prosecutor, a disembodied voice to viewers, accidentally spoke the victim’s name. A speedy pressing of a mute button averted a breach of the law that protects the anonymity of sexual assault victims.

George Pell has appealed his conviction in the Court of Appeal.

The state’s judiciary should be commended for allowing cameras into their courtrooms — first at Pell’s sentencing in March — in a flammable case that’s seen Pell’s high-profile supporters in the church and media attacking his conviction. Yet for all the transparency and through no fault of the judges, the case against Pell remains essentially inaccessible. At its core is an absence.

The case rests on the evidence of Pell’s one living victim, a choir boy when Pell assaulted him in 1996 and 1997. Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said that she and her fellow appeal judges watched the recording of this evidence from the first trial — in which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict — prior to this week’s hearing to gauge how the........

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