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Cardinal cleared of child abuse convictions


BBC

Cardinal cleared of child abuse convictions

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CANBERRA – Cardinal George Pell has been freed from jail after Australia’s highest court overturned his convictions for child sexual abuse.

The ex-Vatican treasurer, 78, was the most senior Catholic figure ever jailed for such crimes.

In 2018, a jury found he abused two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

But the High Court of Australia quashed that verdict on Tuesday, bringing an immediate end to Cardinal Pell’s six-year jail sentence.

The Australian cleric had maintained his innocence since he was charged by police in June 2017.

His case rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope’s most senior advisers.

A full bench of seven judges ruled unanimously in Cardinal Pell’s favour, finding that the jury had not properly considered all the evidence presented at the trial.

It was the cardinal’s final legal challenge, after his conviction was upheld by a lower court last year.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement on Tuesday before he left prison.

Why was Pell jailed?

In December 2018, a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys in private rooms of St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-90s – when the cleric was Archbishop of Melbourne.

The convictions included one count of sexual penetration and four counts of committing indecent acts. (BBC)

 

 

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