The Cardinal, once the third-highest ranking person in the Vatican, was found guilty on 11 December 2018. A suppression order was lifted today, meaning the media can now name him as the defendant found guilty of five charges of child sexual assault.
He becomes the highest-ranking person in the Catholic church to be found guilty of sexual offences. He was also serving as Treasurer to the Vatican.
He will be sentenced on Wednesday 27 February. His lawyers have conceded that a custodial sentence is “inevitable” but have indicated they will appeal against the conviction.
A second trial for Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic leader convicted of sexual abuse, was thrown out. More claims won’t be heard. https://t.co/U59itlaRmO
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 26, 2019
Pell found guilty on all charges
The 77-year-old Pell was found guilty on five charges, including sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence, of a child.
He had been accused of orally raping one choirboy and sexually molesting another at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne in 2016. The victims were aged 13 at the time.
In a powerful statement released through his lawyer, the only surviving victim of Pell wrote: “Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle.
“Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact on my life.”
The victim also appealed for privacy and said he was “just a regular guy working to support and protect my family as best as I can”.
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 26, 2019
Other charges against Pell were discontinued after a witness died
Another series of charges, relating to incidents at a swimming pool while he was a priest in regional Victoria in the 1970s, was discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Australia’s government prosecuting service.
Pell had always denied the allegations but he did not give any evidence during the proceedings. At trial, video of his 2016 police interview was played to the jury. This showed a defiant Pell describing the allegations against him as “deranged” and “vile and disgusting conduct”.
As a high-profile in the Australian and international Catholic Church, he had often been criticised for his outspoken views. In 2002, he told a Youth Day event in Canada that “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people”.
— The CEO Magazine (@CEOMagazineAU) October 22, 2018
Australian PM had apologised to victims of child sexual abuse
Australia had previously had a royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. The horrific findings prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make a formal apology to victims.
The commission’s final report had made some findings relating to Pell but that section had been redacted so as not to prejudice legal proceedings against him.
Pell had appeared as a witness at the Royal Commission and admitted that he took complaints raised by victims’ groups with “a grain of salt”.
As recently as last year, the Sydney archdiocese was running ads in Catholic publications seeking money to help fund Pell’s legal fees.