Cardinal Pell’s court hearing weighs evidence for abuse allegations


March 29, 2018

A hearing will that will decide whether Cardinal George Pell will go on trial for alleged abuse came to a conclusion Thursday after Pell’s attorney launched a vigorous defense and sought to cast doubt on the path from the first police investigations through the filing of legal charges.

Pell’s defense lawyer Robert Richter, 72, engaged in cross-examination of the charges against his client, with Victoria Police Crime Command’s head of serious crime, Paul Sheridan, taking the stand in court.

The Victoria Police launched a special operation in 2013 to investigate Pell, “Operation Tethering.” Richter charged that at its launch, “it was an operation looking for a crime because no crime had been reported.”

Sheridan confirmed the effort had been launched in 2013 specifically to gather information on the cardinal. There was a search for complainants and no one came forward until more than a year after the investigation began.

The total number of charges are not public, but most abuse allegedly took place in the 1970s. An additional allegation concerned the cardinal’s time as Melbourne’s archbishop from 1996-2001. Cardinal Pell has said he is innocent. He currently heads the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy and is one of the nine cardinals advising Pope Francis.

The hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court concluded Thursday after hearing testimony from 50 witnesses, including Pell’s accusers, CNN reports. The cardinal was present every day of the hearing.

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