After being charged with multiple historical sexual assault offenses last year, former Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of all counts related to sexually abusing two choir boys.
Last year on June 29th, Cardinal George Pell was issued a summons by Victoria Police to appear for multiple sexual assault charges. He left Rome for Australia to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court after being placed on official leave by Pope Francis.
Yesterday, a unanimous jury returned its verdict for Cardinal Pell after more than three days of deliberation. However, further details are unavailable as a suppression order on all Australian press coverage was issued by the judge in order to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.”
Earlier this year, the so-called “cathedral trial,” resulted in a hung jury and was declared a mistrial. Prosecutors immediately began a retrial that culminated in a unanimous guilty verdict this week.
Cardinal Pell had been accused, along with numerous other charges that had been thrown out by the court, of sexually abusing two choir boys during his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
The Vatican issued a sole statement in response to the decision reached by the Australian court:
“The Holy See has taken note of the decision issued by judicial authorities in Australia regarding His Eminence Cardinal George Pell. Last year, the Holy Father granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations. The leave of absence is still in place.”
A second trial, the “swimmer’s trial,” will take place later this year. Pell denied all allegations that he “sexually offended” two boys when they were in a swimming pool in Ballarat, Victoria in the 1970s when he was a priest.