She also pointed out that Cornish, her colleague, would have been patrolling the area where the alleged incident occurred “all the time” because there was a problem with tourists coming in near the sacristy, and walking into the cathedral during Mass.
Though Cornish told CNA that her recollections of the months of Oct. 1996 to Christmas 1996 are “sketchy to say the least,” she confirmed Sinozic’s view that it would be highly unlikely for the archbishop to be totally alone minutes after the end of Mass.
“It could be up to an hour after the end of Mass before the area was clear of people who were in all the areas mentioned by the accuser, including the priests sacristy which was the busiest of all the sacristies at that time,” Cornish said in an emailed response to CNA’s questions.
Cornish is the former principal of Good Shepherd Catholic school in Melbourne. She said her office at the time in 1996 was in the presbytery, which was connected to the cathedral.
The archbishop had asked her to be the lead staffer for the forthcoming centenary celebrations of St Patrick’s Cathedral in addition to her regular job as the school principal.
She said the archbishop would always spend a great deal of time shaking hands and greeting people after Mass, even as protestors sometimes made their presence known with placards, shouting slogans like as "Pell go to hell" and ”We will get you Pell no matter what."
Cornish also said she was in the habit of observing the activities and movement of people in the cathedral’s sacristy area.
“This was something I had learned to do even in the short 2 months I had been there, as the main sacristy corridor door was open to allow the altar servers, the assistant sacristan, Ralph [now deceased] and Alan the florist as well as others who attended to the sanctuary and sacred vessels to access the area freely.”
Cornish said she believes that the area where the abuse allegedly occurred was the “busiest and most open” of the sacristy areas, and reiterated that Pell was never alone before, during, or after a Sunday Mass.
To get to the vesting room, which did not have its own door, one would have had to go through the main sacristy, Sinozic said. She said the altar boys, who allegedly were drinking communion wine in the room where the alleged abuse occurred, would have had to go through several doors to get to the vesting room.
If the boys made their way back there, she said she finds it hard to believe that no one saw them.
(Story continues below)
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“George is too smart to do something so stupid. Why would he do something like that? Knowing that anyone could walk in any second," she commented.
Someone would have asked what they were doing, Sinozic said, particularly an hour after Mass when all the other boys would have gone home, and their parents would be wondering where they were.
In addition, the cathedral had an evening Mass, so additional people would have already been in the cathedral preparing, she said. Cornish agreed, adding that it was “quite a major undertaking” to get the church ready again after a large concelebrated Mass.
“And they never mentioned anything for 22 years...why all of a sudden?” Sinozic wondered.
The incident is alleged to have occured when Pell was fully vested for Mass. Sinozic expressed doubt that one of the boys would not have run away while the abuse was taking place, or at least called out to the other people that would have surely been in the area.
Court documents report that “the two boys made some objections but did not quite yell. They were sobbing, in shock, and whimpering. During the offending, Cardinal Pell told them to be quiet, trying to stop them from crying.”
The Court of Appeals in Victoria upheld Pell’s conviction last summer. After an appellate panel announced its decision at a court proceeding Aug. 21, the cardinal was returned to prison. The Chief Justice ruled that Pell will be eligible to apply for parole after he has served three years and eight months of his six year sentence.