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 …