Pell ‘looking forward’ to sex case
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.