Basmah Qazi


Why is 1980s newsreader Katrina Lee standing by George Pell's side?

Why is 1980s newsreader Katrina Lee standing by George Pell's side?

A former Australian and once popular Channel Ten newsreader in the 1980s and '90s has rallied behind Cardinal George Pell throughout his trial for sexually abusing teenage boys.

Pell, 77, was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and one count of rape by a Melbourne jury in December of last year. But Australian media was only given permission to report on the case after the gag order was lifted on Tuesday.

Katrina Lee, an executive advisor for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and a long time friend of Pell’s, stood by him throughout the ordeal, as spectators waiting outside of court yelled “rot in hell” to the religious leader.

Ms Lee was employed by Channel Ten from 1978 until 1987 and then again from 1991 to 1994 as a newsreader, and regularly graced TV screens on the Channel Ten news.

Throughout the entire trial, Lee did not leave Pell’s side and before his conviction, she posted a series of videos interviewing the Cardinal on YouTube.

The interviews were on a range of topics, one of them being Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in 2013.

That same year, Lee responded to the mother of sexual abuse victim Peter Blenkiron, three years after she had written to her about allegations against the church.

Mr Blenkiron’s mother Clare Linan said the reply was “offensive” as it came a few days before Pell was to provide evidence for an investigation into how churches deal with sexual abuse.

Ms Linan had written to Lee in 2010 but received a response three years later in 2013.

Lee chose the opportunity to praise Pell, Ms Linan told The Age.

“He said many times that helping victims and ensuring they are heard, believed and treated with compassion and respect must be the church’s first priority,” wrote Lee.

But the letter failed to convince Ms Linan, as she said she didn’t believe anything that was written to her.

[Pell] doesn’t act like a man of God,” she said.

In 1996, Pell molested two 13-year-old boys at St Kevin’s College. While Pell has denied the accusations, evidence brought forward proved that the victim of his crime was telling the truth.

Do you remember Katrina Lee from Channel Ten news? What do you think of her supporting disgraced cardinal George Pell? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.