Australia’s High Court Overturns Cardinal Pell’s Child Sexual Abuse Conviction

Apr 7, 2020

By Barbara Campbell and Scott Neuman

Australia’s High Court has found reasonable doubt that Cardinal George Pell sexually assaulted two boys in the 1990s and has overturned his conviction.

The court acquitted the former Vatican treasurer of the charges, and no retrial will be possible. The High Court ordered that he be released.

Pell, 78, had been serving a six-year prison sentence after he was convicted in December 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

As an adult, one of them went to the police in 2015 and accused the cardinal of abusing him and the other boy in 1996. The other individual died of a heroin overdose the previous year without reporting abuse.

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2 comments on “Australia’s High Court Overturns Cardinal Pell’s Child Sexual Abuse Conviction

  • 1
    Cairsley says:

    This is a good outcome for the law in Australia. It does nothing to remove the clear indications of Cardinal Pell’s failures to fulfil his legal obligations concerning accusations of sexual abuse of minors by priest positioned under his authority, nor does it remove suspicion of his own guilt in other cases of sexual abuse of minors of which he has been accused. Although there is a trail of rumors of his improprieties with certain children over the decades, there has never been a case for which sufficient evidence was had for successful prosecution. The other type of guilt — of protecting paedophile priests from legal consequences and thus possibly also of complicity in the criminal actions of those paedophiles — would be difficult to present as a legal case, not because there is no evidence, but because of the inaccessibility of the Catholic Church’s files, which would most likely amount to there being no evidence for the case. Is there any way the said church might be legally forced to turn over its files to the police, if, for example, testimonies of a long history of criminal activity by certain members of its leadership have been collated to show grounds for forcible investigation into an organization that is consistently and clandestinely causing serious harm to children?


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