Cardinal George Pell Loses Appeal of Sexual-Abuse Conviction

By Robb M. Stewart
Wall Street Journal
August 20, 2019

Australian judges rule 2-1 to uphold conviction for assaulting two young choir boys

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric ever to be jailed for child sexual abuse, has lost his appeal of his conviction.

A panel of Australian judges ruled 2-1 on Wednesday to uphold the cardinal’s conviction for assaulting two young choir boys inside the cathedral that was the center of his diocese in the late 1990s.

Three judges in the Supreme Court of Victoria, the southeastern state where the 78-year-old cleric first served as a priest and later was archbishop of Melbourne, had been deliberating for months and held an appeal hearing in June.

Cardinal Pell is widely expected to challenge the decision in the country’s top court, the High Court of Australia.

In December, a jury convicted Cardinal Pell on five counts of sexually abusing two choir boys inside a sacristy at a Melbourne cathedral in late 1996 and one of the boys in a cathedral corridor in early 1997, not long after he became archbishop of Melbourne. The former Vatican finance chief was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this year.

The main argument of the cardinal’s appeal was that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable based on the evidence. The cardinal’s lawyers also argued that mistakes were made that prevented him from getting a fair trial. The prosecution countered that the cardinal’s accuser was a compelling and believable witness, who gave testimony a jury could accept.


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