Pell lawyer sorry for “wholly inappropriate phrase”

HIS HIGH PROFILE client has been sleeping in a jail cell this week, but the lawyer for disgraced Cardinal George Pell claims he spent “a sleepless night reflecting upon the terrible choice of phrase” he used in court.

Defence lawyer Robert Richter has been forced to issue an apology after describing the Cardinal’s crimes inside Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 as “plain vanilla sex acts”.

Pell (main picture) was convicted back in December for sexual penetration of a child under 16.


During a planned bid for bail on Wednesday, Mr Richter argued that his client should get a slap on the wrist, because his depraved acts lasted “less than six minutes”, there was “no ejaculation” and “no use of any implement”.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Mr Richter said he used the words during the course of a “long and stressful process”, before offering his “sincerest apologies to all who were hurt or offended by it”.

The “plain vanilla sex acts” description was “not intended to evade the seriousness of what had been done”, the apology explained.

“The seriousness of the crime was acknowledged at the outset by the concession that it merited imprisonment.”

“In seeking to mitigate sentence, I used a wholly inappropriate phrase for which I apologise profusely to all who interpreted it in a way it was never intended.

“It was in no way meant to belittle or minimise the suffering and hurt of victims of sex abuse, and in retrospect I can see why it caused great offence to many.”

When pressed on the phrase outside court yesterday, Mr Richter told a reporter that he had “no idea what you’re talking about”.

The defence team withdrew the bail application and Pell was remanded in custody to be sentenced on March 13.