Three dozen journalists and media companies indicted over Pell trial gag order
FREE Catholic Classes
More than twenty journalists in Australia faced court charges Monday over breach of a court gag order in the case of Cardinal George Pell. The state government of Victoria is bringing charges against several prominent individuals and news outlets for tacitly supporting overseas media in flouting the news blackout.
Melbourne, Australia, (CNA) - On April 15, Victoria County Court held a first hearing in an effort by state prosecutors to bring charges against 23 journalists and 13 news outlets, including some of the largest names in Australian media, including The Age newspaper and several News Corp publications.
Shortly after the Pell verdict was reached, Judge Peter Kidd issued a pointed warning about media violations of reporting restrictions.
"A number of very important people in the media are facing, if found guilty, the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment, and it may well be that many significant members of the media community are in that potential position," Kidd said on December 13.
Victoria has faced sustained criticism for the use of suppression orders by the state's courts.
Despite an Open Courts Act passed in 2013 aimed at improving judicial transparency, Victorian courts issued more than 1500 suppression orders between 2014-2016.
Cardinal Pell was convicted of sexual abuse of minors on 11 December last year. Media coverage of the trial was forbidden after the County Court of Victoria imposed a sweeping injunction suppressing the legal proceedings in June, 2018, at the request of the prosecution.
The court order sought to prevent reporting of Pell's December conviction, pending a second trial due to begin in early 2019. The ban was lifted in February, after prosecutors dropped the remaining charges.
Several international outlets, including CNA, carried news of the trial and verdict, in some cases blocking that coverage from appearing online in Australia in order to comply with court order.
Domestic media in Australia mostly complied with the court order, though some media outlets reported that an unnamed high-profile individual had been convicted on unreportable charges.
The Herald Sun newspaper ran a December 12 cover story under the headline "CENSORED" which said that "the world is reading a very important story that is relevant to Victorians."
"The Herald Sun is prevented from publishing details of this significant news," the front page read. "But trust us, it is a story you deserve to read."
Coverage like that, according to Victoria prosecutors, amounted to offering support to overseas outlets in contempt of court. Penalties can include five years in prison and fines of up to A$100,000 ($71,000) for individuals, and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
Steven Butler, an official of the Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists, to Reuters that court ordered media gags in the digital age are "futile in a case of global interest."
"We urge Australian authorities to drop these proceedings and to re-examine the application of such suppression orders," he said.
In December, one source close to Pell told CNA that the cardinal's treatment during his trial had been "Kafka-esque," with the gaga order allowing an original hung jury, which deadlocked 10-2 in Pell's favor, to be suppressed while an expedited retrial secured a conviction in a matter of weeks.
"Prosecutors can retry him - in secret - until they get a conviction, but there can't be any discussion of what he's accused of, no scrutiny of the evidence against him, and no questioning the verdict. On what planet is this justice?"
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Catholics in Guam have organized a prayer rally to protest the territorial governor's plan to recruit a doctor willing to perform ... continue reading
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Fr. Carlos Eugenio Irarrazaval Errazuriz as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of ... continue reading
The results of a Nicaraguan law granting amnesty to both anti-government activists and security forces will determine whether the ... continue reading
The Mexican bishops' conference expressed its concern Monday about the immigration and tariffs agreement reached between the governments of ... continue reading
A bill in Costa Rica would require Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession to report cases of suspected child sex abuse. Its ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Guam's Catholics oppose governor's plan to expand abortion
- Polish priest ordained after cancer diagnosis dies
- Daily Readings for Tuesday, June 18, 2019
- Forum forms women in leadership, dignity, faith
- St. Gregory Barbarigo: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, June 18, 2019
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 HD Video
- Prayer Requests Live for Monday, June 17th, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, June 18th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, June 17th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Friday, June 14th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, June 16th, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.