Former Vatican treasurer found guilty of “historical child sexual offenses”

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Cardinal George Pell, the former treasurer to the Vatican and Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two choirboys in 1996.

77 year old Pell was found guilty in December 2018 of “historical child sexual offenses” dating back to his time as Archbishop of Melbourne. However, due to a blanket suppression order relating to another case of sexual assault that Mr. Pell was facing the guilty verdict could not be reported in Australia.

On February 26 it was determined the second trial that resulted in the suppression order would not proceed, and as such the charges and convictions are now able to be fully reported. Cardinal Pell was found guilty of 5 charges, including sexual penetration of a child under 16. Pell is due for a pre-sentence hearing on Wednesday 27 February, and is expected to be sentenced within a fortnight.

In a statement, the reported victim (who wishes to remain nameless) said he had experienced “shame, loneliness, depression and struggle….Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.” He has also asked for the media to respect his privacy and anonymity.

A statement released by Pell’s lawyers read “Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so.” The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have said in a statement that “Our hope, at all times, is that through this process, justice will be served” and that “we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones.”

The Cardinal plead not guilty and his legal team have appealed the conviction on three grounds, including that the verdict was unreasonable. Mr. Pell is the most senior member of the Catholic church to be convicted of criminal charges related to sexual abuse.

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