A former choir member has told a court he does not believe Cardinal George Pell could have sexually offended against choristers at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral “knowing the layout and how things worked”.
Rodney Dearing has given evidence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court as Cardinal Pell, 76, fights historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants.
No other details of the charges can be reported for legal reasons.
The court was told that one of the allegations levelled at Cardinal Pell involved two of the choristers during the choir’s procession outside the cathedral at the end of mass in the late 1990s.
Mr Dearing agreed with Cardinal Pell’s defence barrister Ruth Shann that if two choristers had “nicked-off” they would have been noticed by other choir members.
The court heard that Mr Dearing told investigating police he had discussed the allegations made against Cardinal Pell during his time as archbishop after they had been published in a book.
“I can’t understand, knowing the layout and how things worked, how it could have occurred,” he told police.
Ms Shann again asked Mr Dearing if he stood by that statement “that from your perspective it’s just not possible,” she asked.
“I don’t believe so,” Mr Dearing replied.
He also agreed that the archbishop’s robes couldn’t be moved to the side or parted in the middle to allow him to reveal his genitals.
Mr Dearing told the court the archbishop’s robes were heavy, difficult to manoeuvre and required another person to help put them on and take them off.
The complainants gave their evidence during the first two weeks of the committal hearing via video link and in a closed court.
Therefore their evidence is unable to be reported.
The committal hearing is expected to run until next Thursday.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington will then rule on whether there’s enough evidence to commit Cardinal Pell to stand trial.