Cardinal George Pell child sex claims before public prosecutor


Victorian EditorMelbourne

Victoria Police yesterday opened the door to charging Cardinal ­George Pell with child sex offences as senior Catholics stridently backed the faith’s third most senior figure amid a fresh wave of devastating publicity over alleged abuse.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton yesterday made clear that charging Cardinal Pell was a live option for the force after confirming the Office of Public Prosecutions was investigating multiple allegations against the Vatican’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

The Australian has seen no evidence in the public realm to support charges against Cardinal Pell and Mr Ashton has declared that the force will be guided by the ­direction of the OPP.

Cardinal Pell yesterday called for a criminal investigation into the ABC and police after the ­national broadcaster reported ­allegations that the Vatican’s treasurer had molested two boys at a pool in Ballarat, western Victoria, in the late 1970s.

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher yesterday backed Cardinal Pell, who has denied allegations he is a sex offender.

All publicly known allegations of criminal wrongdoing against Cardinal Pell have so far not led to any charges although police are also examining alleged abuse at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, the church’s heartland in Victoria.

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