Pell ‘look­ing for­ward’ to sex case

The Observer - - NATION NEWS - Keith Moor and Shan­non Deery, Her­ald Sun

CAR­DI­NAL Ge­orge Pell has been charged with mul­ti­ple sex abuse of­fences re­lat­ing to mul­ti­ple com­plainants.

Car­di­nal Pell was or­dered yes­ter­day to ap­pear in the Mel­bourne Mag­is­trates Court on July 18.

Po­lice Deputy Com­mis­sioner Shane Pat­ton said the choice to charge Car­di­nal Pell was made by Vic­to­ria Po­lice.

Po­lice did not re­veal the ex­act charges be­ing faced by the Car­di­nal.

In a state­ment, the Car­di­nal “stren­u­ously de­nied all al­le­ga­tions” and con­firmed he would re­turn to Aus­tralia “as soon as pos­si­ble to clear his name fol­low­ing ad­vice and ap­proval by his doc­tors who will ad­vise on his travel ar­range­ments”.

“He said he is look­ing for­ward to his day in court and will de­fend the charges vig­or­ously,” it read.

The mat­ter will re­turn to court on July 6 and also on July 26 for a fil­ing hear­ing.

Two men who made al­le­ga­tions against him said they were “over the moon” charges had been laid.

But their lawyer said her clients had been warned his­tor­i­cal cases were dif­fi­cult to pros­e­cute.

The de­ci­sion to charge the Car­di­nal ends months of spec­u­la­tion and will have enor­mous im­pli­ca­tions for the Catholic Church here and over­seas, with Car­di­nal Pell just a cou­ple of rungs be­low the Pope on its hi­er­ar­chy lad­der.

The Her­ald Sun first re­vealed in Fe­bru­ary 2016 that Car­di­nal Pell was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Sano Task­force over past al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse.

Last month, the pa­per re­ported that the Of­fice of Public Pros­e­cu­tions had re­turned the brief of ev­i­dence on Car­di­nal Pell to the po­lice for a sec­ond time.

It rec­om­mended there was enough ev­i­dence to war­rant the lay­ing of charges, but said it was a Vic­to­ria Po­lice de­ci­sion whether or not to do so.

The orig­i­nal brief of ev­i­dence had been re­turned by the OPP last Au­gust, with­out a rec­om­men­da­tion on whether or not charges should be laid. Of­fi­cers from the force’s Sano Task­force then flew to Rome in Oc­to­ber to put al­le­ga­tions to Car­di­nal Pell for the first time. Their dossier was up­dated af­ter he agreed to be ques­tioned by three Vic­to­rian de­tec­tives.

Car­di­nal Pell, the head of the Vat­i­can’s fi­nances, has re­peat­edly and ve­he­mently de­nied al­le­ga­tions of any abuse, de­scrib­ing them as with­out foun­da­tion and ut­terly false.

Vic­to­rian Men­tal Health Min­is­ter Martin Fo­ley said any­one fac­ing charges needed to be given the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence, “but what we also need to do is make sure we sup­port those sur­vivors”.

Car­di­nal Pell has been in his Vat­i­can role for four years. He was made a car­di­nal in 2003 and pre­vi­ously served as Arch­bishop of Syd­ney and Arch­bishop of Mel­bourne.


Ge­orge Pell.

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