In a public statement, Robert Richter QC – who is representing Cardinal George Pell in criminal proceedings in Victorian County Court – apologised for a “terrible choice of a phrase” used in court earlier this week.
Mr Richter, in a statement that was circulated by email, posited that “after spending a sleepless night reflecting upon the terrible choice of a phrase I used in court during the course of a long and stressful process, I offer my sincerest apologies to all who were hurt or offended by it”.
No offence was intended by the comments, he said, nor were those statements “intended to evade the seriousness of what had been done”.
“The seriousness of the crime was acknowledged at the outset by the concession that it merited imprisonment,” Mr Richter continued.
In seeking to mitigate the sentence to be imposed upon Cardinal Pell, Mr Richter said that he “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.”
“I hope my apology is accepted as sincerely as it is meant, and I will never repeat such carelessness in my choice of words which might offend.”
As reported by ABC, Mr Richter, while speaking at a plea hearing on Wednesday, described the crimes for which Cardinal Pell was convicted as being “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not volunteering or actively participating”.
At the time of publishing this story, Cardinal Pell – Mr Richter’s client – has not been sentenced.
As has been reported by mainstream media outlets, the cardinal has lodged an appeal against his conviction, which became public knowledge earlier this week after the lifting of a suppression order on the conviction, handed down in light of the fact that the cardinal was to face a second, separate trial.
That trial has since been aborted, thus allowing for a lifting of the suppression order.