Two Months Later, News Orgs Are Finally 'Allowed' To Report On Top Vatican Official's Child Molestation Conviction
from the suppressed-press dept
Back in December, we wrote about the insane attack on free speech perpetrated by the Australian court system, barring anyone from reporting on the fact that “third most powerful person in the Vatican,” its CFO, George Pell, had been convicted of molesting choir boys in Australia in the 1990s. Only a very small number of news sites reported on this at all, out of fear of the Australian government going after them. Even the NY Times (of all sites) only published the story in its physical paper, and not online, to avoid the possibility that readers down under might see the story. We even got some pushback from some people for publishing the story, with them saying it was necessary to make sure Pell’s second trial on similar charges was “fair.” Of course, we’ve handled these issues differently in the US for decades, in a way that seems to work just fine: the press is free to report, but jurors are restricted from researching or reading about the case. That system inconveniences the fewest number of people, retains a system of fairness, and does not stifle a free and open press.
Either way, on Tuesday, the Australian court system finally lifted the gag order allowing official reports to finally be written. As for why the gag order was finally lifted? Apparently that all important second trial? It’s been called off.
The Washington Post story above has many more details about the case that were kept secret, including the fairly graphic and horrifying details of what Pell did to some choir boys in the 1990s. It remains an insult to the work of the media that so many were forced to stay silent over these details. I recognize that not everywhere else has a First Amendment like the US does, and that protections for freedom of expression and freedom of the press vary from country to country, but Australia’s press gag here is notable for keeping such important details secret and for scaring the media in other nations, including the US, from publishing their stories as well.