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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Cardinal George Pell: found guilty of child sexual assault

Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of child sexual abuse after a trial in Melbourne.

He was once the third most powerful man in the Vatican and Australia’s most senior Catholic.

A jury delivered the unanimous verdict on 11 December in Melbourne’s county court, however the result was subject to a suppression order and could not be reported until now.
A previous trial on the same five charges, which began in August, resulted in a hung jury, leading to a retrial.

Pell is on leave from his role in Rome as Vatican treasurer, was found guilty of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16 as well as four charges of an indecent act with a child under the age of 16. The offences occurred in December 1996 and early 1997 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, months after Pell was inaugurated as archbishop of Melbourne.
He will be sentenced on Wednesday (tomorrow), having been out on bail since the verdict and recovering from knee surgery.
Pope Francis, who has previously praised Pell for his honesty and response to child sexual abuse, has yet to publicly react.
However, just two days after the unreported verdict in December the Vatican announced that Pell and two other cardinals had been removed from the pontiff's council of advisers.
All along, it has been indicated that Pell’s conviction would result in a likely imprisonment.
The case against Pell centred around events of more than 22 years ago.
Says this article in The Guardian:
The jury found that in the second half of December 1996, while he was archbishop of Melbourne, Pell walked in on two 13 year old choirboys after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral and sexually assaulted them.
The complainant, who is now aged 35 and cannot be named, said he and the other choirboy had separated from the choir procession as it exited the church building. The prosecution’s case hinged on his evidence, as the other victim died in 2014 after a heroin overdose. Neither victim told anyone about the offending at the time.
After leaving the procession, the complainant said, he and the other boy snuck back into the church corridors and entered the priest’s sacristy, a place they knew they should not be. There they found some sacramental wine and began to drink. The complainant alleged that Pell had walked in on them and told them something to the effect of they were in trouble.
Pell manoeuvred his robes to expose his penis. He stepped forward, grabbed the other boy by the back of his head, and forced the boy’s head on to his penis, the complainant told the court.
Pell then did the same thing to the complainant, orally raping him. Once he had finished, he ordered the complainant to remove his pants, before fondling the complainant’s penis and masturbating himself. The complainant said the attack only lasted a few minutes, and the boys left the room afterwards, hung up their choir robes and went home.
Being in the choir was a condition of the complainant’s scholarship to attend St Kevin’s College, an elite independent school in the affluent inner-Melbourne suburb of Toorak, the court heard.
The article continues:
“I knew a scholarship could be given or taken away even at that age,” the complainant told the court. “And I didn’t want to lose that. It meant so much to me. And what would I do if I said such a thing about an archbishop? It’s something I carried with me the whole of my life.”
The complainant alleged that either later that year in 1996, or in early 1997, Pell attacked him again. He said he was walking down a hallway to the choristers’ change room, again after singing at Sunday solemn mass at the cathedral, when Pell allegedly pushed him against the wall and squeezed his genitals hard through his choir robes, before walking off.
The complainant told the court that after the attacks he could not fathom what had happened to him and that he dealt with it by pushing it to the “darkest corners and recesses” of his mind.
In his police statement, the complainant said he remembered Pell “being a big force in the place”.
“He emanated an air of being a powerful person,” he said. “I’ve been struggling with this a long time … and my ability to be here. Cos I think Pell has terrified me my whole life … he was [later] in the Vatican. He was an extremely, presidentially powerful guy who had a lot of connections.”
In his closing address, the crown prosecutor Mark Gibson told the jury their verdict would come down to whether they believed the complainant beyond reasonable doubt. They should find the complainant an honest witness, Gibson said.
Pell pleaded not guilty from the beginning. He was interviewed by a Victorian detective, Christopher Reed, in Rome in October 2016, and the video of that interview was played to the court. In that interview Pell described the allegations as “a load of garbage and falsehood”.
When Reed said the attacks were alleged to have occurred after Sunday mass, Pell responded: “That’s good for me as it makes it even more fantastically impossible.” 
Pell’s defence team told the jury there were so many improbabilities in the prosecution’s case that they should conclude the abuse could not have happened. Richter said it was unlikely that two boys could leave the choir procession after mass unnoticed or that the sacristy would be unattended or left unlocked, or that Pell would be able to manoeuvre his robes to show his penis in the way described by the complainant. The robes were brought into the court for jurors to view.
Richter used a PowerPoint presentation in the retrial during his closing address to the jurors, something he did not do in the first. One of the slides read: “Only a madman would attempt to rape two boys in the priests’ sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass.” 
In his directions to the jury, the judge, Peter Kidd, told them that the trial was not an opportunity to make Pell a scapegoat for the failures of the Catholic church.
The jury took less than four days to reach their unanimous verdict.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Mel Schilling: "I'm always going to call out that behaviour." Response to Bronson's use of 'c' word

Mel Schilling, the psychologist on 'Married At First Sight' who called show participant Bronson out for the use of his word c*nt on TV, stands by her words.

Mel Schilling on 'Talking Married'

On 'Talking Married', the weekly show which features interviews with 'married' couples from current and past #MAFS seasons, as well as the resident TV experts, Mel joined relationships expert John Aiken for a prerecorded interview where the elephant in the room was tackled head on.

With a gazillion comments written on myriad social media posts, as well as articles deconstructing what happened during last Sunday's commitment ceremony, even a petition to have Mel sacked (at least count with over 61,000 signatures), Mel and John answered questions from the wonderful show hosts Shelly Horton and Jayne Azzopardi, with the line of questioning centring on Mel confrontation of Bronson for his choice of language directed to his TV bride Ines.

But the psychologist stands by her words, despite massive public backlash against her.

"It's actually never excusable to use that language toward anyone," she told the panel on Wednesday night's episode of 'Talking Married'.

"It's disrespectful, and it cuts down someone's self esteem and it can have lasting effects. So, I'm always going to call out that behaviour."

Missed the 'Talking Married' ep? Here it is in full, and the Mel and John interview is in segment two of this episode:


Mel took Bronson to task about a derogatory term he used to describe his wife Ines, where he said about her during the commitment ceremony:

"When we did the questionnaire thing, Ines was amazing that night," he began.
"Like really amazing, I loved her to pieces that night. The next morning, the hulk come out. Straight back to BEEP.
"I'm not calling her a BEEP, I'm just saying she acts like a BEEP."
And then Mel started with her advice to Bronson.
"When you use language like that in relation to a woman, how do you expect her to respond to you? A tip from me to you: Don't use language like that if you want any chance of a relationship," she told Bronson.

This week, speaking on 'Talking Married' about the now controversial comment, Mel also made a point of making it clear that gender has nothing to do with the advice she gives participants.

"If you looked around the room and saw all of the brides and grooms, their reaction was the same. Using that language is inappropriate and in any setting toward any person, I'm going to call that out whether it's a man or a woman."

Mel also let viewers know that future drama is to happen further into the experiment, in which "the women are called to account on a number of occasions, so there really is quite a balanced approach."

Both John and Mel addressed the public backlash surrounding the commitment ceremony, and John Aiken put it all into perspective.

"My thoughts are that people are absolutely invested in this show and in the couples, and they were really outraged by some of the behaviours that they've seen."

And the biggest reveal of all?

The expert reminded viewers that during filming, the experts aren't privy to the footage that viewers see on TV, "So we're dealing with what's in front of us."

What? Wow!

So, while many are defending Bronson in line with the context of Innes's behaviour, Mel and all the experts are not seeing what we're seeing! Now that's a revelation for sure.

For those playing at home, Bronson and Ines have had a fiery start to their TV marriage right from the get go.

On first sight, Ines walked up the aisle to lay eyes for the first time on her new groom and what he got was: "Can you take your eyebrow ring out please?"

On learning Bronson was a stripper (he actually still owns a stripper hire company), Ines was not impressed with his past profession. It all went downhill from there.

On their honeymoon, while the pair were on a boat en route to a parasailing adventure, Ines is visibly shaken and Bronson is seen asking the boat skipper questions about the expedition, seemingly distressing Ines further. She tells Bronson to "shut the fuck up."

During the exchange, Ines says:
"The less talking you do, it’s going to be better for me, I’m trying to compose myself,” she tells Bronson.
"Just breathe deeply," Bronson, her new husband offers.
"Shut the fu** up. When I say don’t speak shut the fu** up. Get me off the boat," she yells.
At this stage, Bronson stops playing the nice guy and admits: "As a human, you are a horrible person."

He then looks at the cameraman and asks, "Ah, too late to get a divorce?"
Bronson goes on to defend himself in front of the camera. "If I’m in the wrong... but trying to talk to someone and getting shut down and told to shut up, no I don’t think anyone deserves that."
Missed the drama?
Here is that clip for reference:
Back to the 'Talking Married' ep. John adds during the interview, the derogatory word said by Bronson's was a shock to all, "not only us, but everyone in the room… That sort of language is totally inappropriate, and we'll call it every time."

Following the controversial commitment ceremony, John acknowledged Bronson was sorry and aware "he overstepped the mark with that language."

"You saw a very marked difference in reactions between Bronson and Ines during that debrief," he added.

On the 'Talking Married' desk that night was also season five groom Ryan Gallagher, who came out in full support of Mel, asserting that the backlash against the expert was "very unfair".

"Mel backed me from the start… she called Davina out and everything she did to me. She's not biased at all… she's fantastic."


'Married At First Sight' Season 6 airs Sunday at 7pm and Monday to Wednesday at 7.30pm on Channel Nine. For more on MAFS, including past episodes and behind-the-scenes clips, head to the MAFS official site.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

RHOS: over. RHOM: stay tuned!

Grab the tissues, you guys.

'Real Housewives of Sydney' is legit now NOT HAPPENING.

Wait what?

Okay, full disclosure: we DO prefer RHOM ('Real Housewives of Melbourne' guys, keep up, ha!) but to can the Sydney version of this wildly successful franchise. Yep. It's OVAH.

After LOADS of speculation, Foxtel has officially pulled the plug on the 'Real Housewives of Sydney'.

Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh confirmed to TV Tonight that the Sydney edition of the global 'Real Housewives' franchise will not be returning for a second season.

“Sydney won’t happen again. Once bitten twice shy,” Walsh said. The series starred Sydney CASHED UP women Athena X LevendiKrissy MarshLisa OldfieldMatty SamaeiMelissa TkautzNicole O’Neil and Victoria Rees.

Walsh, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph shortly after the first ep aired, told the publication that he believed the women had gone “too far”.

“A lot of the women in this show were nasty for nasty’s sake and have no redeeming features,” he said.

Even American network Bravo, which has aired several seasons of the Real Housewives of Melbourne, refused to air the Sydney version because of its“extreme” content. For reals.

“The program didn’t feature enough of the fun and friendship between the women,”a US television insider said at the time.

Okay, sad face.

Now. Onto Melbs.

Happening, or no?

Walsh said that the Melbourne ladeez may potentially return if they overcome “some hurdles”. 

“Housewives remains an important franchise but we have to be convinced the narrative is there to take it forward,” he said.

“After the last series, it started to become somewhat repetitive with the girls. It always comes down to Gina having a falling out with the new one. So they are working on that.”


We are honestly thinking it'll be a big fat YES for the Victorian ladies.

Ines's #MAFS behaviour: Nine responds

So. Let's talk about Ines. Ines Basic.

The whole world* (actually just people who watch 'Married At First Sight') is talking about one of the brides on the hit show for the 2019 season. Okay, talking about most of them, but just when we were reeled in, thinking that Elizabeth would be THE most talked about TV bride, Ines has figuratively sidled up and said... "Hold my beer..." you ain't seen nothing yet.

Yes, we know the chatter about the show.

"Oh, this show is scripted."

"Oh it's all a set up, and these people are here for Instagram followers..." etc etc etc

Okay, yeah, cool.


To have it be seemingly okay for Ines to, well, "carry on like a pork chop" and go NEXT LEVEL POSTAL on her new husband Bronson is just SO NOT COOL.

I am not a woman hater, I am not a man hater.

BUT. When Ines and her new 'husband' Bronson have exchanges like this, I am baffled.

Ines to Bronson: “I just need you to shut the fuck up right now. I need you to shut up.” Bronson, in shock, does indeed shut the fuck up.

They're on a boat, on their honeymoon, Ines hates boats. And this moment. And life, we think, too.

She continues to yell at him. “When I tell you to shut the fuck up, I mean SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

It defies belief that this kind of thing is not vetted, not reprimanded by producers, no indication that there might be counselling for Ines. And Bronson. Nothing.

Now, you KNOW what I am going to say here: IF THE ROLES WERE REVERSED THERE WOULD BE AN OUTCRY. That is, if this was Bronson's dialogue to Ines, it would be understandably critiqued and written about no end, social media would be ON FIRE, and it would be vilified endlessly.

Here's what we say to that: this is also NOT acceptable behaviour from a woman to a man.

I do not care what kind of trauma you have been through. Ines has been through unspeakable trauma, so has Bronson. He has lost three family members all in a row (mum, two brothers), and Ines' family were refugees and she saw more trauma than a child and teen need to see.

But please people. On what planet is this shit treatment acceptable?

Here are some video snippets for context, then below... what a Channel Nine spokesperson has said today:

In light of posts on Ines on Instagram having the commenting function switched off, here is what they said, and some context.

A spokesperson for Channel 9 admitted the social medial team had "proactively" restricted commenting on posts about Ines.

"We take our duty of care seriously, and vigilant social media moderation is an important part of this," said the spokesperson.

"Due to the high volume of adverse comments on Ines’ posts, Nine’s social media team acted proactively to moderate appropriately."