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George Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter makes grovelling apology

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Cardinal George Pell will be remanded in custody until March 13th after being found guilty of child sex abuse.

George Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter QC, leave court. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

George Pell’s defence lawyer has issued a grovelling apology a day after his sensational description in court of the Cardinal’s crimes as “plain vanilla sex acts”.

The Melbourne-based lawyer representing the country’s most senior Catholic yesterday called Pell’s 13-year-old victims “naughty boys” for drinking church wine before they were attacked.

He argued that Pell’s crimes — which include sexual penetration of a child under 16 — were “plain” and “vanilla”.

Mr Richter’s characterisation of the molestation and rape of the boys sparked outrage, as did his argument 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, Robert Richter said he had spent “a sleepless night reflecting upon the terrible choice of phrase” that he used in court.

Robert Richter described George Pell’s molestation and rape of two 13-year-old boys as “vanilla sex acts”. Picture: AFP

Robert Richter described George Pell’s molestation and rape of two 13-year-old boys as “vanilla sex acts”. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mr Richter said he used the words during the course of a “long and stressful process” and offered 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”, Mr Richter said.

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

“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.”

George Pell’s bail was revoked on Wednesday and he will remain behind bars until his sentencing in two weeks. Picture: AFP

George Pell’s bail was revoked on Wednesday and he will remain behind bars until his sentencing in two weeks. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

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

Today, he promised to “never repeat such carelessness in my choice of words” again.

Victoria County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd yesterday put Mr Richter “on notice” for suggesting Pell’s crimes inside Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 were “on the low end of offending”.

George Pell's lawyer Robert Richter has now apologised for his remarks in court. Picture: AAP

George Pell's lawyer Robert Richter has now apologised for his remarks in court. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

Judge Kidd said plainly that he would not entertain that notion.

“People make reasoned choices,” he told the court. “That’s what he did and he did it for over five minutes. He exploited two vulnerable boys. There was an element of brutality to this assault. It was an attack.”

He told Mr Richter that Pell’s crimes were not “trifling”.

Pell has been remanded in custody to reappear in the County Court on March 13 for sentencing.

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