Jonathan Pearlman, sydney
28 JULY 2016
Cardinal George Pell, one of the most powerful figures in the Vatican and Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, is facing a police investigation over an alleged series of child sexual assaults, including claims he inappropriately “grabbed” boys at a swimming pool in the state of Victoria.
In a statement issued by his office in Rome, Cardinal Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief, emphatically denied the allegations, accusing police and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of “conspiring” to destroy his reputation.
He accused police of illegally leaking “inaccurate and unfounded” allegations.
“I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “I bear no ill will and have no desire to cause them [the alleged victims] harm but what they say about me is not true.”
Two former students at St Alipius, a school in the town of Ballarat, have publicly accused the cardinal of abuse dating back to the 1970s during sessions at a local swimming pool. Cardinal Pell was responsible for education in the area and regularly visited the students.
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