Vatican treasurer Cardinal Pell to face trial on historical abuse charges

01 May, 2018, 06:44 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Decision day has arrived for George Pell, as magistrate weighs options

Magistrate Belinda Wallington found there is evidence of sufficient weight against Australia's most senior Catholic cleric for him to stand trial on some allegations.

Cardinal George Pell departs the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Australia's Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - the nation's highest form of inquiry - revealed previous year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

The three charges all relate to alleged sexual offending in the 1970s at a swimming pool in Ballarat, where the accused man was working as a priest at the time.

Pell has strenuously denied all charges, and Tuesday's committal comes after a four-week-long hearing to determine whether the allegations would go to trial in the County Court.

The 76-year-old cardinal was facing multiple charges of historical sex assault offenses from a number of complainants.

A large police presence was on hand at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court for the arrival of Cardinal Pell.

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The goal of a committal hearing is for a magistrate to hear the evidence against the accused and decide whether it is sufficient to commit them to stand trial.

During the pre-trial hearing, Prosecutor Mark Gibson had said none of the complainants had resiled from their allegations against Pell under cross-examination and Victoria Police Detective Sergeant Chris Reed refuted Richter's suggestions of serious flaws in the police investigation.

The trial will be held in Melbourne and lawyers for Cardinal Pell have indicated he will plead not guilty.

Wallington is yet to rule on some other charges. The first 10 days of the hearing were heard in closed session, when Pell's accusers were questioned.

The police separated the Cardinal's path from the public as protesters arrived with laminated signs reading "every child deserves a safe and happy childhood".

Archbishop Hart expressed his confidence in the judicial system in Australia and said that justice must now take its course.

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