In December last year, a jury found Cardinal Pell guilty of five charges of serious sexual assault of one choir boy in late 1996 in St Patrick’s Cathedral. This followed an earlier trial in which the jury failed to reach a verdict.
Cardinal Pell has lodged an appeal against his conviction. In a statement issued today, his lawyers said he had always maintained his innocence and continued to do so.
“Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued,” said lawyer Paul Galbally.
“He will not be commenting in the meantime.”
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, made the following statement:
“The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia.
The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system. The same legal system that delivered the verdict will consider the appeal that the Cardinal’s legal team has lodged. Our hope, at all times, is that through this process, justice will be served.
In the meantime, we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable.”
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli said while acknowledging the judgement of the jury, “I join many people who have been surprised and shaken by the outcome of the second trial”.
“It is important that we now await the outcome of this appeal, respectful of the ongoing legal proceedings,” he said.
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