Tasmanian Times

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An Australian court’s gag order is no match for the Internet, as word gets out about prominent cardinal’s conviction

An Australian court’s gag order and the forces of the Information Age collided on Thursday in a largely futile effort to keep news about the conviction of a high-ranking Vatican official from reaching readers.

While some U.S. and British news organizations, including the New York Times, did not report on the conviction of Australian Cardinal … on the judge’s order, social media and other news outlets defied it.

… was convicted Tuesday on five counts of child sexual abuse in Melbourne, becoming the most senior official ever found guilty in the Catholic Church’s long-running child sexual-abuse scandals. The judge in the case, Peter Kidd, immediately subjected news of … conviction to a suppression order, the Australian equivalent of a gag order on press coverage.

Australian courts impose such orders to shield defendants from negative publicity that could prejudice future jurors in upcoming trials. … faces another trial next year on a separate set of abuse charges dating to the 1970s.

Kidd’s order prevented Australian media outlets from reporting the news about … But news organizations based outside the country also complied with it, apparently out of concern that their Australian operations could be subjected to contempt of court penalties …

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