Bolt: My trust in justice gone after shock Pell ruling
I looked to Victoria's Court of Appeal to stand against the mob and the media witchhunt, and to set George Pell free.
The good news is the Justice Mark Weinberg wanted to do just that, and today ruled that the allegation that Pell abused two 13-year-old choirboys seemed impossible to believe.
The bad news is that two other judges voted him down. Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Justice Chris Maxwell, former president of Liberty Victoria.
They insisted that Pell's lone accuser was a witness of truth, and "there was nothing about the complainant's evidence that meant the jury must have had a doubt about the complainant's account".
Really? Tell that to Justice Weinberg, who said the accuser - who remains anonymous - gave evidence against Pell that in part was "entirely implausible".
What's more, he said there was "impressive evidence" that suggested his claims of Pell raping two boys at once in an open room in a busy cathedral were "impossible to accept".
How can judges have reached such dramatically different conclusions?
How can two say there was no possibility of reasonable doubt about Pell's conviction, when a third experienced judge in fact finds the case against Pell "impossible to accept"?
This court's verdict has shocked me, but, sadly, not surprised me, given my lack of faith in our justice system.
It will also shock commentators of the Left and long-time critics of the conservative Pell, including Father Frank Brennan, who have long been amazed that a jury found Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a crime that on the evidence seemed so improbable, almost impossible.
Here are just some of the reasons Pell's supporters thought that jury was so wrong to find Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt, which is the standard in criminal cases.
Here at just some of the 13 reasons put to the court by Pell's lawyers, and which I assume convinced Justice Weinberg, at least, that no reasonable person could have found Pell really did abuse those two boys in Melbourne's St Patrick's cathedral two decades ago.
First, his accuser initially got the dates wrong about when Pell allegedly attacked him and a friend, after a Mass.
Second, that friend, now dead, told his mother he was not in fact attacked.
The improbabilities pile up. Pell is supposed to have slipped away from his own processional after Mass, and forced himself on these two choir boys after finding them in the normally busy sacristy.
He's supposed to have done this when he usually talked to parishioners at the door of the cathedral.
He's supposed to have done this when the master of ceremonies, Monsignor Charles Portelli, said he never left Pell's side.
Pell is supposed to have attacked the boys in a normally very busy room, where the stuff used in the Mass is stored, and with the door open.
He's supposed to have done this when the servers who follow the Archbishop to take his mitre and crozier after the mass and pack them in the sacristy would have been with him all the way, or have gone to the sacristy before him, where they should have seen the boys Pell is said to have abused.
He's supposed to have abused two boys at once - two boys he didn't know, and whose parents, for all he knew, were waiting outside.
And he he's abused them by holding onto one, while somehow exposing himself, when in fact he was dressed in heavy bishop's robes - two sorts of cassocks over his trousers, held in place with a belt.
There's more improbabilities as well.
Even if Pell could physically have been in the sacristy, without being seen, and physically done these attacks, how insane would he be to attack these two boys in this open room, and in this busy cathedral? A man like that, with no past record of abuse?
And why did these boys not tell anyone what had happened? None of it makes sense.
Yet two judges have said it does. I am so shocked.
I know many people hate it when I put the case like this. They say it's an insult to victims to doubt an accusation, but Pell would not be the first priest who has been unfairly accused.
In the past few months the courts have overturned convictions against the Archbishop of Adelaide and against a Christian Brother, both falsely accused of sexual abuse.
But when it came to Pell, it seems that was just one priest too many.
This will shatter the 78-year-old, who was convinced he would be freed. For 175 days he has been in solitary confinement, keeping himself sane with hope - and by writing his memoirs.
But now the hope is gone. And my trust in justice, too.