Australian Cardinal George Pell Convicted Of Child Sex Abuse


Pell, the most senior Vatican figure ever to be found guilty of the sexual abuse of a minor, is now awaiting sentencing for one count of sexual penetration of a child and for four counts of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child under 16.

Pell, 77, was convicted in December of sexually abusing two choir boys in a room at Melbourne's St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1996, the Associated Press reported.

Pell then forced the two boys to perform oral sex on him before fondling them, the complainant said.

The Vatican on Tuesday insisted on Australian Cardinal George Pell's right to further defend himself but was keeping in place local church restrictions forbidding one of his most trusted advisers from having contact with children while appeals run their course.

The decision of the County Court of Victoria was reached December 11, 2018, but not widely reported until this week, following the imposition of a sweeping gag order by the court in June of past year.

Lawyers for Pell, who maintains his innocence, have lodged an application for leave to appeal the convictions.

He was convicted based on the testimony of one of the victims, now in his 30s, who recalled how they were abused aged 13 while on scholarships to Melbourne's prestigious St Kevin's College.

Pell is due to be sentenced next week and his lawyer indicated he would be launching an appeal against the convictions.

Pope Francis has just held an unprecedented summit on paedophilia in the Church.

But critics say the institution is still moving too slowly in dealing with a problem that is global in scale and, at minimum, spans decades.

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Pope Francis ended a conference on sexual abuse on Sunday, calling for an "all out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".

Pell said in an Australian television interview weeks before his interview with police that the public perception of him as "wooden" was wrong.

In point of fact, Pell was already investigated and exonerated from sex abuse charges in 2002.

He was summoned to Rome in 2014 to clean up the Vatican's finances and was often described as the Church's third-ranked official.

Following Pell's December conviction, some global media reported the verdict, while local newspapers published front-page stories informing readers that a prominent Australian had been found guilty of serious crimes, but they were not allowed to reveal what or who.

The suppression order prevented media from reporting the outcome of the first trial, or indeed that a trial was occurring at all, to avoid tainting a jury for the second.

CONTENT WARNING: the following article discusses child sexual abuse.

"It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it", Howard said.

One of the testimonials is from Mr Howard, who became prime minister in 1996, the same year Pell committed his crimes.