CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court has dismissed the convictions of the most senior Catholic found guilty of child sex abuse.High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel announced the decision of the seven judges on Tuesday in the appeal of Cardinal George Pell. The decision means he will be released from Barwon Prison outside Melbourne after serving 13 months of a six-year sentence.
Pope Francis’ former finance minister was convicted by a Victoria state jury in 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in a back room of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in December 1996 while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city.
Pell was also convicted of indecently assaulting one of the boys by painfully squeezing his genitals after a Mass in early 1997.Pell had been ordered to serve three years and eight months behind bars before he became eligible for parole.The High Court found that the Victorian Court of Appeal was incorrect in its 2-1 majority decision in August to uphold the jury verdicts.
Pell was regarded as the Vatican’s third-highest ranking official when he voluntarily returned to Melbourne in July 2017 determined to clear his name of dozens of decades-old child abuse allegations.All the charges were dropped by prosecutors or dismissed by courts in preliminary hearings over the years except the cathedral allegations.
Pell was tried on the charges twice in 2018, the first County Court trial ending in a jury deadlock.Pell did not testify at either trial or at the subsequent appeals.But the juries saw his emphatic denials in a police interview that was video recorded in a Rome airport hotel conference room in October 2016.
“The allegations involve vile and disgusting conduct contrary to everything I hold dear and contrary to the explicit teachings of the church which I have spent my life representing,” Pell read from a prepared statement.He also pointed out that had had established a world-first compensation scheme for victims of clergy, the Melbourne Response, months before the crimes were alleged to have occurred.
As police detailed the abuse allegations, Pell responded: “Absolutely disgraceful rubbish. It’s completely false. Madness.”Pell was largely convicted on the testimony of one of the choirboys, now in his 30s with a young family.He first went to police in 2015 after the second victim died of a heroin overdose at the age of 31. Neither can be identified under state law.
Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd told the High Court last month that the surviving choirboy’s detailed knowledge of the layout of the priests’ sacristy supported his accusation that the boys were molested there.Pell’s lawyers argued that Pell would have been standing on the cathedral steps chatting with churchgoers after Mass when his crimes were alleged to have occurred, was always with other clerics when dressed in his archbishop’s robes, could not have performed the sexual acts alleged while wearing the cumbersome garments and could not have abused the boys in the busy priests’ sacristy without being detected.
Much of the two-day hearing focused on whether the jury should have had a reasonable doubt about Pell’s guilt and whether he could have time to molest the boys in five or six minutes immediately after a Mass.The appeals court found in a 2-1 majority in August that Pell had had enough time to abuse the boys and that the unanimous guilty verdicts were sound.
Judd said the “two big points” raised by Pell’s lawyers against the prosecution case were evidence that Pell had been chatting with members of the congregation on the steps of the cathedral after the Masses when the abuses could have occurred and that he only had windows of five or six minutes to commit the abuses undetected.
Pell’s lawyer Bret Walker told the High Court that all that the prosecution had to do at his trial and appeals court hearing was to prove that Pell being left alone while robed or not talking with congregants after Mass was “possible” to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
“That ... is a grotesque version of the reversal of onus of proof, if all the Crown has to do is to prove the possibility of something,” Walker said.Judd argued that the charges were proved beyond reasonable doubt.“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s (Pell’s) guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted,” the court said in a statement.Read more: The Associated Press »
roccopalmo Careful, your anti-Catholic bias is showing. You can’t say Pell was found guilty! The final judgment is he is not guilty. If you’re going to say he was found guilty, you have to add “preliminarily, until the high court overturned the wrongful conviction.” Disgusting what you can get away with when you have powerful connections.
Except he wasn't found guilty. Innocent until proven guilty is the law...even for prominant Catholic clergy. noproofofguilt innocentman Didn't realize Australia was so into child sex abuse. Worthless country. roccopalmo So he's not guilty, AP. Darkness no more! Wrongly convicted of disgusting crimes , hopefully he has a legal team to help correct your writers
Best time to do it, Catholic priests have go ahead from 5 eyes establishment continue just don't get caught next time, their aim to spread immortality and he can go back to his wicked ways---always wondered why there is so much evil in the religious ranks Overturning a jury and court of appeals, not because of new evidence or misconduct, but because prior jurors “ought to have” had more doubt is very strange to my mind. This is a logic that could overturn nearly any decision
$$$$ talks...or whatever they use down unda. Excellent news. An innocent man spent over a year in jail on false charges. Praise God! So how much was forked out to the judges? 🤔 Disgrace. A kangaroo court? Dismissed ? Unbelievable 🙈🤮 This crook knows how to play the game. Innocent man is free ! Score another win for the cabal
Burn the church to ground JesusSaves roccopalmo For 400 days Cardinal Pell couldn’t celebrate Mass, guess what he’ll do as soon as he’s out! What an Easter gift! Omg Australia: The Land Felt Under (of young boys) Way not cool. When did Conrad Black join the clergy? To everyone in these replies saying justice hasn't been done - if someone whose politics you agree with in the US was convicted based on the testimony of one person and SCOTUS unanimously overturned the conviction, would you say the same thing?
May God strike him down 🙏 Can we kill him now? I'm so sorry Australia. This. THIS. Raped kids and gets away with it. Typical. Bulllllllllllssssssshhhhhhhiiitttt Thank God 🙏🙏 a good and holy man who was targeted by a group of evil hacks. Congratulations to his eminence!! PHYS878 Aún cuando un tribunal lo exculpe sigue siendo un pederasta
What a travesty of justice! what does it mean 'dismissed the convictions?' overturned them perhaps? dismiss the case? It would be good to publicize the legal reasoning from the court. Procedural? Visceral reactions everywhere. Nobody wins in these cases. Reactions from victims? Lawyers? More like Moloch's court.
What the actual fuk? DISGUSTING. news just keep getting better. no one is held responsible any longer. Justice done Pell never would he's not that stupid EdMorrissey organized religion thrives on evil .SaRaAshcraft ? SUE THE HELL OUT OF THE ABC Well we'll. What else is new? So Australia law stands with a pedophile?
A child rapist goes free. I wish I believed in Hell. Keep giving them money! Hi Associated Press, You forgot something... why were the charges dismissed? So can we assume Judges were also involved? 🤔 Um, what the fuck? Welp. Someone needs the check the hard drives of the judges on that court now. I bet he's coming to America as an advisor to Trump
I'm not shocked. SMH.
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