John L. Allen Jr.
May 1, 2018
Following a four-week committal hearing last month, an Australian magistrate on Tuesday dismissed some of the most serious charges of “historical sexual offenses” against Cardinal George Pell but also ruled that the 76-year-old prelate will stand trial on at least three different complaints.
It’s not clear at this point when that trial will take place, though sources in Australia say that criminal procedures of this sort often can last one year to 18 months. Pell has denied the charges vigorously since police first filed them last summer.
He is expected to face a directions hearing in Melbourne’s County Court in the future, when a trial date will be set.
Pell is currently on a leave of absence from his post as the Vatican’s Secretary for the Economy, and he becomes the most senior Church official ever to face criminal charges of sexual abuse in a civil court of law.
His committal hearing is believed to have been one of the longest ever in the Australian state of Victoria, the capital of which is the city of Melbourne where Pell’s legal proceedings have unfolded. The first 10 days of the hearing were heard in closed session, when Pell’s accusers were questioned.
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