[Update (March 7, 2019) : As noted below, Damien Costas and Penthouse Australia are touring Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’). For various reasons related to visa and financial difficulties, the tour has been postponed on several occasions: it has now been announced that the tour will commence on March 23. But before it does, the apparent decision to deny first McInnes, then Yaxley-Lennon and now Yiannopoulos a visa may yet mean the tour is cancelled. See : Milo Yiannopoulos could be denied Australian visa over unpaid police bill, Naaman Zhou, The Guardian, March 7, 2019. In the meantime, Yaxley-Lennon has embarked upon a campaign of harassment directed at critic Mike Stuchbery. See : Tommy Robinson hammered on my door at 5am and brought a torrent of abuse in his wake – but he won’t shut me up, Mike Stuchbery, The Independent, March 5, 2019.]
See : Guilty: The conviction of Cardinal Pell, 4 Corners, ABC, March 4, 2019.
The conviction last week of Archbishop George Pell on five counts of child sexual abuse of two boys in the 1990s has triggered a number of his supporters. Among those who immediately jumped to his defence are Newscorpse trollumnists Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine, Catholic academics Frank Brennan and Greg Craven, and Tory politicians Tony Abbott and John HoWARd. According to Bolt (MORE DOUBTS OVER PELL CASE: PAUL KELLY AND GUY RUNDLE, Herald Sun, March 2, 2019):
George Pell’s conviction on child sex abuse has already been questioned by me, Frank Brennan, Greg Craven, John Silvester, George Weigel, Miranda Devine, Peter Wales, senior lawyers, Tess Livingstone and even Guy Rundle.
Surely some of the commentators and activists who have been so savagely celebrating Pell’s fall, and so eager to vilify me for explaining my doubts about the verdict, will pause and ask if something really did go wrong in this case, after all. Can so many people from both sides of the political spectrum really have no reason for doubting – and for risking such hatred to say so?
Er, maybe. But in terms of ‘both sides of the political spectrum’, presumably, this is a reference to Rundle, The Leftist. (Note that Livingstone has written not one but two books on Pell, George Pell: Right from the Start (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2002) — to which Weigel contributed a foreword — and George Pell : Defender of the Faith Down Under (Ignatius Press, 2005).) In Quadrant (The ‘Getting’ of George Pell, February 27, 2019), Geoffrey Luck joins Rundle & Co. to assert that:
The conviction of George Pell demonstrates the power to skew justice of the emotional claptrap surrounding the serious crime of child abuse. Complaints by persons with identity protection appearing decades after supposed events are accepted at face value; the guilt of the accused is presumed, largely as the result of media-induced disgust. The jury’s decision is reduced to a distorted balance of probabilities, with motivation never examined.
Uh-huh. (Note that there’s a series of articles on Quadrant — Catholics, Sex, and Cardinal Pell; The Cloud of Doubt over Pell’s Conviction; The Pell Case: What It Says, Where It’s Going; This Was a Fair Trial?; What Happened to ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’? — attacking the conviction as unjust.) In any case, while there’s been a mountain of analysis and commentary, according to various law-talking guys, Pell stands a good chance of successfully appealing his conviction. In the meantime, while maintaining his innocence, he sits in Melbourne Remand Centre, and will be sentenced for his crimes on March 13. See also : We Should Afford George Pell The Assumption Of Innocence Until Proven Guilty By Andrew Bolt, The Shovel, March 5, 2019 | Is George Pell innocent?, Andrew Clark, Australian Financial Review, March 1/2, 2019 | George Pell’s conviction, Alex McKinnon, The Saturday Paper, March 1, 2019 | These public figures are defending convicted child sex abuser George Pell, The New Daily, February 27, 2019 | The moral and intellectual collapse of Australian conservatism, Richard Cooke, The Guardian, January 11, 2019 | 20.4.1 – Appeal Against Conviction – Judicial College of Victoria.
Joining Bolt, Devine, Brennan, Craven, Abbott, HoWARd, Kelly, Silvester, Weigel, Wales, Livingstone and even Guy Rundle among the ranks of the #PellDefenders is Bolt’s #BFF Milo Yiannopoulos. According to Yiannopoulos (For whom the Pell tolls, The Spectator Australia, March 2, 2019), Pell’s conviction is testament to nothing other than the power of the progressive Catholic hierarchy … the so-called “lavender mafia” of powerful left-wing gay bishops in Rome. Contra the fact that Pell was found guilty by a jury after police investigated complaints by his victims and then laid charges in July 2017, for Milo: ‘It’s tough to escape the conclusion that Cardinal Pell’s true crime was being a strident doctrinal and political conservative … this is just another case of a conservative being pelted with retaliatory allegations by a sinful, guilty leftist establishment.’
Yiannopoulos is, of course, notorious for inter alia making comments endorsing paedophilia, though this is considered irrelevant by his Australian fanbase. Funnily enough, among his thousands of fanboys is Andrew Bolt, who was hired to act as MC at Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement in Perth in December 2017 and otherwise — along with a number of other Newscorpse properties — did his bit to promote Yiannopoulos’ tour via numerous positive endorsements on his various media platforms. Further, Yiannopoulos, along with Not-So-Proud Boy Gavin McInnes and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’), is meant to be touring Australia again next week, although it seems as if the tour — again organised by Damien Costas and Penthouse Australia — is in some jeopardy, given that none of the three appear to have been granted visas, and McInnes was denied one last year. Naturally, Bolt understands the possibility of his chum Yiannopoulos being denied a visa as constituting a great crime: unlike, say, Pell’s abuse, or Yiannopoulos’ endorsement of paedophilia (see : MILO CAN’T COME, BUT THIS HATEPREACHER CAN?, Herald Sun, March 1, 2019 & elsewhere).
Conservatives last week: refugees may be paedophiles! #medivacbill
Conservatives this week: what's wrong with paedophiles? #PellDefenders
— Tom's thumb👍 (@mrtomhartney) March 1, 2019
As for the tour, while Costas has been busy selling tickets for months, it’s not been a straightforward affair. Thus, for the benefit of those of you coming in late …
Yiannopoulos was originally going to return to Australia by way of Queensland businessmen (and crank Mormons) Ben and Dan Spiller. Trading as ‘AE Media’, and with the generous assistance of their Mummy & Daddy, in April 2018 the Spiller Bros announced that they were intending to bring back Milo in May, when he would be joined by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and serial pest Neil Erikson (and possibly disgraced Sky News presenter Ross Cameron). Almost immediately upon it being announced the tour collapsed in a heap.
Undeterred, in September the Spillers (AKA ‘Future Now Australia’) announced that they’d be touring Fraser ‘Final Solution’ Anning, Ann Coulter, Yaxley-Lennon and Yiannopoulos in November/December. That, too, collapsed in a heap, with Yaxley-Lennon withdrawing and the tour being promoted as ‘Ann & Milo’. Not long after, the organisers announced that this tour too was cancelled, and ticket-holders would instead be issued tickets to see Gavin McInnes. That tour, organised by Damien Costas (Penthouse Australia), would later add Yaxley-Lennon to the bill. Intended to kick-off in December, the tour was delayed until February 2019, then again until March 2019.
Costas has also had to deal with a number of legal difficulties, most of them seemingly arising from the fact that he’s been screwing over his suppliers.
Penthouse publisher and Yiannopoulos tour organiser fights multiple legal battles
February 22, 2019
Australian Penthouse publisher Damien Costas will be bankrupted next month unless the pornographer repays personally secured debts amounting to more than $200,000.
On Wednesday, the Federal Circuit Court gave Costas a full calendar month (until March 20) to repay his debts before a bankruptcy petition filed in September 2018 by printers TMA Australia will be finalised.
The petition has since been joined by Southern Colour (Vic) Pty Ltd. and was recently supported by Le Montage — the Sydney restaurant venue where a speaking event in December 2017 featuring the notorious political troll Milo Yiannopoulos sparked protests and violent street clashes requiring heavy police intervention. Costas subsequently refused to pay Victoria Police $50,000 in attendance fees for the Melbourne leg of the same tour.
Costas’ solicitor Daniel Riedstra sought adjournment of the bankruptcy decision until March 13, and argued that his client would be solvent thanks to a loan of $750,000 (expected to clear in late February) as outlined in an affidavit given by Costas on February 18. Crikey sought a copy of this affidavit from Costas’ lawyer but did not hear back by deadline.
“If we’re back on the 13th and things haven’t gone to plan, we’ll be in a very difficult position,” Reidstra told the court, after explaining that bankrupting Costas would have negative flow-on effects to his various companies and employees.
Of the promised refinancing deal, Crikey understands Costas’ affidavit earmarked $400,000 for the development of a restaurant (to be named “Guccione’s” in honour of the founder of Penthouse magazine, Bob Guccione), which will be built in the ground floor of the Darlinghurst offices where Australian Penthouse is published, despite resistance from locals who petitioned the local council to refuse the development approval for a licenced venue.
Costas’ debts include $175,000 for printing services, which he personally secured with applicant and first creditor TMA Australia, according to the company’s managing director, Anthony Karam.
“He signed a personal guarantee when he applied for credit with our organisation. Penthouse went into administration, and we then proceeded to pursue the debt from him personally,” Karam explained to Crikey.
“But the day before the court hearing he showed up and agreed to make full restitution, full payment, with interest, costs, and suchlike.
“He said he needed a payment plan, which we provided him with … to prevent further trouble. I mean, obviously sometimes you try to help people; you don’t want to be cruel, so we gave him a payment plan over three months. After that he just didn’t make the payment threshold, so we moved to a summary judgement to bankrupt him.”
It’s been a busy week for Costas, who appeared at the Downing Centre on Monday to sue Le Montage for a security bond worth $30,000, in the case of Filthy Gorgeous Productions Pty Ltd v Le Montage Pty Ltd.
The counsel for Filthy Gorgeous Productions Pty Ltd, Charles Waterstreet did not surface to support his client, who was alone as he informed the court of learning only hours earlier that the infamous defence lawyer had double-booked his morning, and was busy elsewhere conducting “a very important criminal cross-examination” according to a message given to the court.
In evidence at an earlier hearing, Costas said it was a “chaotic scene” when he arrived at the venue for the Yiannopoulos event in December 2017, and that he did not read the contract presented to him on a clipboard by venue manager Dominic Hannah, and as such could not have been aware that this “second” contract contained a new clause, introduced because of Hannah’s apprehension of a growing level of risk involved with hosting the highly controversial event. The clause stipulated that a $30,000 security deposit for potential damages was only refundable “at our discretion”.
Magistrate Megan Greenwood was not satisfied with the plaintiff’s claim of ignorance, exclaiming: “One of these contracts has five paragraphs, and the other has six; they do not even share a common paragraph.”
Instead, Greenwood accepted evidence given by Hannah that he witnessed Costas “run his pen over the document before signing”.
The court found in favour of Le Montage and awarded costs against Costas.
Outside the Downing Centre, Costas had little time to talk as he made a beeline for his next engagement — “a conference with my lawyer for about six hours” — but he did state for the record: “We will be appealing the decision.”
And if that’s not enough litigation for the strongest of entrepreneurial stomachs, the ever-unflappable Costas is also engaged in a legal battle with the Department of Home Affairs, over a decision to deny his visa application for political agitator Gavin McInnes — the estranged founder of VICE magazine who has publicly disavowed his association with an alt-right men’s group of his own conception, “The Proud Boys”. McInnes was booked to speak with anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson in a national speaking tour dubbed “The Deplorables”, scheduled for December last year and cancelled only days before ticketholders expected to hear their favourite firebrands speak.
Directions for the bankruptcy petition will be filed on March 15, with the final judgment to be handed down at 11am on Wednesday March 20.
Disclosure: Ben Hagemann is a freelance journalist previously published in Australian Penthouse. He is still owed around $2300 for writing and photography work for the publication.
See also : Milo Yiannopoulos (Penthouse Florida) ~versus~ Damien Costas (Penthouse Australia) (December 11, 2018).
In addition to apologias from Bolt and Yiannopoulos, David Hiscox‘s AltRight website XYZ has published an article by Adam Piggott (George Pell and the Australian assault on Christianity, February 27, 2019) which argues that the conviction was a product of a leftist conspiracy (part of a larger war upon Christianity itself), and on that basis should be disregarded: If they can get Pell convicted and jailed on such ridiculous charges then they can get anyone … George Pell was the number three man in the Vatican and a direct threat to the current Pope and his socialist agenda. The charges of pedophilia are beyond ludicrous if one takes the trouble to read the details of the trial. This has been a political and cultural assassination.
While XYZ is apparently happy to defend convicted paedophiles (and therefore Christianity‽), one thing it’s not happy with is The Jew. The attitude of two of its principal contributors, David Hilton (‘Moses Apostaticus’) and Ryan Fletcher, are summarised below:
Note that, along with Yiannopoulos, Hilton was a sometime contributor to Rowan Dean’s Spectator; he’s also one of numerous anti-Semities and white nationalists published by Tucker Carlson’s site The Daily Caller. See : The Daily Caller Has A White Nationalist Problem, Stephen Piggott and Alex Amend, SPLC, August 16, 2017 | The Daily Caller exposed for publishing prolific antisemite; still employs editor with white nationalist ties, SPLC, May 29, 2018 | A Daily Caller Editor Wrote for an ‘Alt-Right’ Website Using a Pseudonym, Rosie Gray, The Atlantic, September 5, 2018 | Why Have So Many Daily Caller Writers Expressed White Supremacist Views?, Bethania Palma and Alex Kasprak, snopes, September 6, 2018. Fletcher’s own contributions to the neo-Nazi cause are more modest, having penned ‘From HEMP to Hitler’ and enlisted Christopher ‘Crying Nazi’ Cantwell to voice it for an audiobook version.
• As noted previously, serial pest Neil Erikson has been kicked off Facebook. In other sad news, he’s recently been joined by Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who has had his own page deleted, along with his Instagram; Google and YouTube, however, have still got his back. The mouthy little gobshite is also apparently being sued for defamation (see : Tommy Robinson threatened with libel action over Syrian schoolboy posts, Nazia Parveen, The Guardian, March 3, 2019).
• ‘Tiny’ Avi Yemini is almost certainly Yaxley-Lennon’s loudest fanboy in Australia, the antipodean PayPaltriot having secured sponsorship from US and other radical right-wing networks in order to fly to London and join his hero on-stage at various recent rallies. A candidate for the ‘Australian Liberty Alliance’ (ALA) at last year’s Victorian state election, Yeminem and his running-mate Kaylah Jones between them scored 2,075 votes or 0.48%. It’s unlikely that Tiny will be running for the ALA again, however, as the party has applied to re-brand itself as ‘Yellow Vest Australia’.
Perhaps the best response to Bolt’s proclamation that Pell is innocent comes from Clare Linane:
An Open Response to Andrew Bolt.
Dear Mr Bolt,
My name is Clare Linane. As you know, I am a Ballarat local who has been living with the aftermath of child sexual abuse for many years. My husband, Peter Blenkiron, is a survivor of clergy abuse at 11 years old. You met him whilst in Rome three years ago.
I am compelled to write to you after you expressed your opinion that George Pell has been falsely convicted (27 & 28 Feb, Herald Sun).
You are entitled to your opinion.
What concerns me, however, is your statement that your opinion is based on “overwhelming evidence”. I believe this is misleading, irresponsible and ignorant. Your lack of genuine insight into the issue of sexual child abuse makes a mockery of survivors and all they have endured.
The “overwhelming evidence” you mention includes some of the following points (*), which I would like to respond to in an attempt to help educate you about this issue:
* “One of the boys, now dead, denied he’d been abused”
To provide context for readers, when the mother of the now deceased victim asked him, more than once, if he had been sexually assaulted – he denied it.
Among survivors of clergy (and non-clergy) childhood sexual abuse, it is common for them to deny the abuse occurred. As vulnerable children, they are incredibly embarrassed, confused, and ashamed. They do not understand what has happened to them, and their shame is magnified by the revered status of their abuser. According to the rigorous Report for the Royal Commission into The Impact of Delayed Reporting on the Prosecution and Outcomes of Child Sexual Abuse Cases [PDF]: “children have also been found to be less likely to disclose and more likely to delay if the perpetrator is a parent or parent figure, or a person in a position of trust and authority”
I asked my own husband about this. Although Brother Edward Dowlan had molested and raped him in 1974, when his parents asked him in 1975 if anything had happened to him, his response was to vehemently deny it. He states, “You deny it because you don’t want them to feel guilty. You don’t want them to carry the guilt of having sent you to this wonderful school, within their wonderful Church … only for you to be abused. So you just deny it, to protect them”.
The piece of important evidence you do fail to point out, is that the deceased victim began using heroin at 14 years of age, after enduring the abuse at 13. He abandoned a scholarship at St Kevins, spiraled into drug abuse, and died of a heroin overdose at 30.
This pathway is sadly all too common for sexual abuse victims.
* “The other (alleged victim) whose identity and testimony remain secret, didn’t speak of it for many years”
According to the same report, “Boys and adolescent males are less likely than their female counterparts to disclose child sexual abuse at the time of the abuse. When they do disclose, they take longer to do so … For example … in a 2008 study … for nearly half the men (45 per cent), it took at least 20 years for them to discuss their abuse”.
Additionally, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse Final Report (2017) found that the average time it took for men to disclose was 25.7 years. The surviving choirboy disclosed 19 years after his abuse – earlier than average. The other choirboy died 18 years after his abuse, so was also well inside the average.
Given this evidence, the fact that one of the complainants didn’t speak of his abuse for many years is, it would seem, indicative of a genuine abuse survivor; not a reason to doubt, as you imply.
* “It allegedly happened in the sacristy, normally a very busy room”
You state in your article that you are not a Catholic. I am curious to know why you believe the sacristy is normally a very busy room?
I was raised a Catholic, and have asked my extensive network of Catholic friends and family about the sacristy. I’m yet to find one who tells me the sacristy was, or is, ‘normally’ very busy. The adjectives used have included “quiet … weird … uncomfortable … scary … silent … solemn”.
* “where Pell would have known people were almost certain to walk in”
The prospect of discovery did not deter clergy abusers. Children were raped with their parents in the next room. In St Alipius, Ballarat, one child I know of was physically carried away from the playground by Ridsdale and Best, screaming for his life, in front of the other children. At St Patricks College, boys were physically punished at the back of the classroom then molested while the rest of the class faced forward.
To use your words, at any stage all of these abusers would have known “people were almost certain to walk in”. And yet they proceeded. Their revered status as ‘next to God’, and their knowledge that the organisation for which they worked was not about to hold them accountable, meant the risk of discovery was not a deterrent.
* “There is no history or pattern of similar abuse by Pell, unlike with real Church pedophiles such as Gerard Ridsdale”
This point is totally irrelevant to Pell’s guilt or otherwise.
Sexual abuse of children is a crime. You don’t have to do it to (at least) 65 children like Ridsdale; just the once.
Furthermore, it is incorrect. There is a pattern in the allegations about Pell. The fifth count relates to Pell pushing one of the choirboys and grabbing his genitals. The Southwell inquiry in 2002 saw a complainant making an allegation of Pell “getting a good handful” of his genitals in the water at Phillip Island. In that internal Church Inquiry Justice Southwell found that he believed both the complainant and Pell. Similar claims were made by the Eureka Pool complainants, one of whom died, another of whom was to be the complainant in the so-called “swimming pool trial”. That trial was dropped because the evidence of another complainant was ruled inadmissible. The judge did NOT rule out the evidence of the complainant who made the grabbing allegations.
* ”the man I know seems not just incapable of such abuse, but so intelligent and cautious that he would never risk his brilliant career or good name on such a mad assault in such a public place”
I’ve never met George Pell so I cannot give a personal opinion of what he is capable of. Even if I could, it would be totally irrelevant to his likely guilt or innocence and would most certainly not be ‘overwhelming evidence’.
Pedophiles can be otherwise lovely, intelligent, charismatic people. We know from history they include extremely successful politicians, celebrities, judges, teachers, priests … they are from all walks of life and run the whole gamut from stupid to brilliant, charming to repulsive.
* “Maybe they misremembered. Maybe they had the wrong guy”
Please spend some time listening to survivors recount their experiences. You’ll notice that whilst they might be blurry with exact dates and times, the details of the perpetrator they sadly cannot get out of their head. My husband struggles to wear aftershave because Dowlan wore it whilst he abused him. He remembers looking at the shaving nicks on his abuser’s neck as the molestation took place, and the scent of what came to be, to him, the sickening smell of cologne. Another survivor I know gets physically ill when someone smokes Alpine cigarettes around him, because one of his abusers smoked them.
Furthermore, these boys were 13, not 3. Their brain development at that age makes them well and truly capable of facial recognition. George Pell has always had a very distinctive physical presence and had been Archbishop for several months at the time. He was extremely well-known, not just in the cathedral but also in the media and society more generally. The victim in this case is unlikely to have mixed Pell up with another 6 foot 4 archbishop.
* “I would, and did, read the transcripts of the trial”
No Andrew, you may have read a partial transcript. The full transcript is not available to you or any of us. Only the survivor, the police, the lawyers, the judge, the jury and Pell have heard all the evidence. So please stop implying that you know all the facts: you do not, and nor do I.
* “Could this attack have happened when not a single witness corroborated a single one of the accuser’s’ claims?”
Yes, it could. I am yet to meet a survivor who had a witness to the crime committed against them. And yet these crimes occurred.
To conclude, Andrew, I reiterate that you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But please don’t make the irresponsible claim that it is based on “overwhelming evidence”.
This week, I’ve been asked my opinion many, many times. My response?
“Any opinion I have is irrelevant and ill-informed, because I am not privy to all the facts of the case.”
How about everyone stops trying to convince people of Pell’s innocence or guilt; it is not the most important issue here.
We have hundreds, potentially thousands of survivors throughout Australia who have not yet come forward. And when the likes of yourself, and other commentators, use your public profile to cast doubt over the outcome of a trial, you make these people even less likely to come forward and get the assistance they so desperately need.
If you want to support Pell, go and visit him in jail. Help fund his appeal. Take Miranda Devine with you.
In the meantime, here in Ballarat we are going to continue to try to deal with the fact that our suicide rate among males is twice that of Melbourne and 65 percent greater than the Victorian average.
We are going to keep helping women, children, mothers, fathers, and siblings pick up the pieces as their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers prematurely end their lives.
We are going to keep lobbying for the redress scheme that the Royal Commission recommended, so that our survivors get the practical and emotional assistance they need.
We are going to keep trying to figure out how to reverse what has now become a cultural problem whereby males in our community resort to suicide instead of seeking help.
Honestly, the fact that our most senior Catholic has been jailed is the least of our worries right now.