Pell claims 'impossible': QC
SOME of the allegations made against Cardinal George Pell could simply never have happened, his legal team said yesterday.
Cardinal Pell will face a month-long preliminary hearing in March to answer historical sexual offence allegations.
The Cardinal, who has taken leave from his post as the Vatican's finance chief, appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday for his second hearing since being charged in June.
Despite fewer people turning out than for his first court hearing in July, Cardinal Pell was again mobbed as he arrived and left court.
Inside court his high- profile lawyer, Robert Richter QC, reiterated that his high-profile client would fight every charge brought against him.
Mr Richter told the court it was "impossible” allegations of historical sexual offending at St Patrick's Cathedral could have occurred.
"The notion that it couldn't have happened needs to be explored,” he said.
Mr Richter said he would seek to prove that at an upcoming hearing, which was set down yesterday for March 5.
Dozens of witnesses, including former choirboys, will be called during a preliminary hearing that prosecutors estimate will last four weeks.
The court heard at least 55 witnesses had made statements to police. It is unclear how many Cardinal Pell's legal team has formally sought to cross-examine.
Yesterday's procedural hearing centred on who would be cross-examined at the preliminary hearing.
Mr Richter said for the bulk of the witnesses the cross-examination would be "short and sharp”.
He said it was vital to cross-examine so many witnesses in order to properly prepare for trial.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington refused permission to cross-examine five witnesses Cardinal Pell's lawyers had hoped to question, saying they could offer little beyond statements already given to police.
Cardinal Pell sat in court flanked by two women including spokeswoman Katrina Lee.
He spoke quietly to them, but was not required to address the court.
The cardinal had been under no obligation to attend the hearing but he arrived at court about 9am and went through usual security checks before being escorted by police to a meeting room where he sat with his lawyers.
He made no comment to media as he arrived or left court.
Media were camped outside the court from 5am.
An increased security and police presence was again in place in anticipation of a repeat of chaotic scenes from his first appearance in July when the Cardinal was mobbed outside court but protected by a human chain of police.
Today he was again flanked by police who aggressively kept media and curious onlookers at bay.
Cardinal Pell is the most senior Catholic official to face court on sex offence charges.
On being charged he immediately took a leave of absence from his post as Vatican finance chief.
The matter will return to court later this year for a further mention.