Occasionally we discuss great and not-so-great defenses in litigation. This would fall under the latter. Robert Richter, the attorney for Cardinal George Pell in his sentencing hearing for sexual assault, shocked many with his assurance to the court that one of the incidents was a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating.” It is a a statement that seems tailored to destroy any chance of leniency for your client. On the legal Richter scale, that would be a 9 or more level argument with total destruction.
Richter made the claim in an effort to secure a lower sentence in a Melbourne court for the 77-year-old former Vatican treasurer. His is the highest ranked Vatican official convicted of such crimes, which included five charges of indecent acts and sexual penetration of a child for sexually assaulting two choirboys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in the late 1990s.
Richter argued that there was “no aggravating circumstances” in his rape of two 13-year-old boy. He also argued that the crimes were the result of his being “seized by some irresistible impulse.”
If so, he is not the only one with an impulse problem.