Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell guilty of child sex charges






Canberra - By Subel Bhandari, - Vatican treasurer and Australia's highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, raped a choirboy and molested another in the 1990s inside a Melbourne cathedral, an Australian court has found.

Pell, 77, is the most senior Catholic cleric charged with child sex abuse. He was Pope Francis's top financial adviser and the Vatican's economy minister until he took an indefinite leave of absence to face the charges in Australia in 2016.



 
He was found guilty by a jury with a unanimous verdict in the Victoria state County Court on December 11 after more than two days of deliberations, but the conviction was only made public on Tuesday after a suppression order was lifted.
Pell, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, faces a potential maximum 50-year prison term.
Currently, the 77-year-old remains on bail. The pre-sentencing hearing begins on Wednesday. He will likely be sentenced in mid-March. 
His lawyers have filed an appeal to overturn the verdict. 
The Melbourne jury found Pell guilty of five charges - one of sexually penetrating a child and four of committing indecent acts with children.
In the earlier trial, held in September, the jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict.
Pell had just been installed as the Archbishop of Melbourne when the incident took place. His victims were two 13-year-old boys on scholarships at the city's prestigious St Kevin's College.
The pair had left the choir group after a Sunday mass in late 1996 and were caught drinking sacramental wine in the priest's sacristy.
Pell then exposed his penis from beneath his ceremonial robes and molested them, the court had heard. 
One of the victims died in 2014. The other victim, who is now in his mid-30s, brought the allegations to police in 2015.
A month or so after he was raped by Pell he was again sexually assaulted by the cleric, this time being pushed against a cathedral wall by the now-cardinal who fondled his genitals.
The guilty verdict was made public only after prosecutors decided not to go ahead with a second trial over allegations that Pell had indecently assaulted boys at a swimming pool in Ballarat, Victoria in the 1970s. 

 


Tuesday, February 26th 2019
By Subel Bhandari,
           


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