The Pell verdict

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for sexual assault against a minor has failed. He will likely serve the non-parole period of more than three years. He is 78 years old and visibly fragile. There is a chance he will die in jail.

A lot has been written about Pell, and much of it has been opinion searching for a target. Now they have it.

Over the new few days, many of these commentators will become instant experts in the Catholic Church and sexual assault.

Thomas Plante, Ph.D., ABPP, a professor at Santa Clara University and an adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, is an expert in clergy abuse.

He has written about myths around clergy abuse. This is his list of 10 myths:

Myth 1: Sexual abuse is more common among Catholic priests than other groups of men.

Myth 2: Catholic clerical sexual abuse is still common today.

Myth 3: Most clerical abuse perpetrators have hundreds of young child victims.

Myth 4: Fewer numbers of reported victims in recent years is because it takes decades for victims to come forward.

Myth 5: Homosexual men cause clergy sexual abuse of children.

Myth 6: Mandatory celibacy causes Catholic priests to sexually abuse children.Myth 8:  All victims are being totally truthful.

Myth 7: The lack of women priests in the Catholic Church causes clerical abuse.

Myth 8:  All victims are being totally truthful.

Myth 9: Clerical offenders went into the priesthood so that they could abuse children.

Myth 10: The Church has done nothing to keep children safe and offending priests out of ministry.

Please read it all.


On 24 August 2019 on Facebook, some listeners questioned by US data was used in this podcast episode. The decision is explained below. The post also sheds further light on abuse in Australia by the Catholic Church. The Royal Commission case study cited below can be found here.

Daily Breakdown The reason I quoted the US report was that it highlighted common myths around child sexual abuse (that can also be applied to Australia) and went beyond just religious institutions (ie, schools).

I was shocked to learn only recently that the Royal Commission covered schools (including government schools). I can’t recall government schools receiving much attention during the RC. It did make me think that the RC was focussed heavily on the Catholic Church, although there was good reason for that. I thought the comparison of abuse by Catholic clergy and teachers was valid and helped put child sexual abuse into context. A concern of mine is that today we worry about priests when, if a stranger commits the abuse, it’s more likely to be a teacher (of course, the most common abuse is within families).

However, according to the RC, abuse among Australian clergy was more prevalent than in the US. The article below highlights the extent of abuse in Catholic institutions.

It is shocking reading.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it quotes Catholic Church data that 7 per cent of priests have been accused of offences. That’s higher than the US data which I cited. I’ll reference this on Monday.

However, the emphasis on the Catholic Church has allowed other institutions to escape the same scorn (including government schools and other denominations).

The Salvation Army, for example, practised many of the same techniques to cover abuse as the Catholic institutions, including moving perpetrators when credible allegations were made. See Case Study 5 from the Royal Commission for details (the example of Captain Laurie Wilson in particular)

The aim of this episode was to put child abuse offences into a context that wasn’t being reported. Which is also why I didn’t go into the allegations and defence of Pell; they’ve been covered elsewhere and, as with so many debates, minds aren’t going to be changed, even by a court verdict.

I hope this helps clarify some of the issues raised above.

As always, thank you for your comments. I really appreciate it. Keep well – DB…/child-sex-abuse-royal…/8243890

Thank you to listener Warren for raising the question.

The Canberra Times shouldn’t have published this

In the age of social media, Letters to the Editor are little better than Twitter, except that there is an editor. Becuase there’s an editor, this should not have been published:


Does the PM understand the inherent bigotry in his call for the public service to refocus on “middle Australia” rather than “highly organised and well-resourced interests”? This was said to a highly organised and well resourced interest, the conservative Institute for Public Affairs. The message is clear. Only listen to conservative views.

Bill Wood, Greenway

Of all papers, The Canberra Times should know there one helluva difference between the Institute of Public Affairs and the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

But as the letter fit the narrative of the paper, it was probably too good to check.

What Alan Jones said was wrong …

So there’s no need to lie about what he said:

Alan Jones, a man who has fantasised on radio about disposing of women’s bodies in chaff bags, hanging them above the streets of Sydney, and suffocating them with socks, would like us all to be a little more careful with our language, please.

Ross Gittins will be kicked off the island for writing stuff like this

Earlier this week, Ross Gittins said he didn’t like rent seekers, even though he’s a climate catastrophist and without rent seeking there would be no renewables … now he’s calling out recycling for the useless virtue signal and economic catastophe it plainly is:

Minister for Industry Karen Andrews said: “Boosting our onshore recycling industry has the potential to create over three times as many jobs as exporting our plastic waste, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

Really? Sounds delusional to me. The truth is that most of what we put out each week is of little value to business – especially after you’ve had to move it, sort it, move it again, clean it up, melt it down or whatever.

It’s not clear that the cost of making our waste attractive to local businesses would be less than they were prepared to pay for it. If not, we’d pay through higher taxes. Of course, governments could compel businesses to use recycled materials, but if this increased their costs we’d pay through higher prices.

Which is exactly what we’ve been saying about renewables. Welcome aboard, Ross.

Gendered charity is a real thing

Actually, that’s not right. It’s not a real thing at all. it’s garbage. Be grateful you aen’t funding this garbage:

Try to read it. It’s horrifically stupid.