The Daily Beast
BARBIE LATZA NADEAU
ROME—Cardinal George Pell, the 76-year-old head of the Vatican’s Secretariat of the Economy, will stand trial in Melbourne, Australia, for criminal sexual abuse he is alleged to have inflicted on young boys in his home country during the 1970s and ’90s.
Exact details of the charges have not been made public due to victim privacy laws, but one of the alleged incidents apparently took place over a 12-month period with a child from St. Joseph’s Boys Home, according to reporters in Australia. Another is purported to have occurred at various times with the same victim in a local swimming pool frequented by a Catholic youth group under Pell’s supervision.
Pell’s alleged behavior has been the focus of a committal hearing in Australia meant to determine if there is enough criminal evidence to support a jury trial. Pell left Vatican City last June to face his accusers, despite initially pleading ill health that would have kept him safe inside the protected Vatican city-state, where he enjoys diplomatic status.
After a month of hearings in which the court heard disturbing details of the alleged abuse from a number of victims, including one event that is said to have occurred during the screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled that several of the accusations were to be dismissed due to either lack of or incoherent evidence. Only two of the many allegations against him have enough solid evidence to warrant a trial, she said, though it cannot yet be reported which two those are.
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