Cardinal George Pell Found Guilty Of Child Sexual Abuse
In December Cardinal George Pell was found guilty by a jury of abusing two 13-year-old choir boys.
In December 2018 a Melbourne jury found Pell guilty of five charges - one of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16 and four of committing an indecent act.
The jury deliberated for three days before finding him guilty of all counts.
The jury was told that in December 1996, after Pell had finished presiding over Sunday mass, he found the two young boys in the priest's sacristy.
They were swigging sacramental wine when they were discovered.
The victim said Pell said, "what are you doing here?" or "you're in trouble", then Pell immediately abused his friend, before turning to him.
Pell was also convicted of groping the victim who gave evidence, on a separate occasion, again inside St Patrick’s.
Pell's other victim died in 2014, he had never made an official complaint.
Pell, who is the Vatican's treasurer and third highest-ranking official, is the highest Catholic official to be found guilty of such charges.
Pell walked out of court on Tuesday to a huge media scrum. Chants of "Pell go to the hell" could be heard ringing out as he made the short walk from the building to a waiting car.
He is set to face his pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday where it is expected he will be remanded in custody while he awaits sentencing.
Dr Vivian Waller who represented one of the survivors read a statement on their behalf on Tuesday.
"Like many survivors, I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle," the survivor, who cannot be named, said in a statement.
Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.
At some point we realise that we trusted someone we should have feared and we fear those genuine relationships that we should trust.
The survivor said he did not wish to make further comment and wanted to protect his young family and parents.
"I am not a spokesperson about child sexual abuse. There are many other survivors and advocated who bravely fill this role," he said.
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said he hoped "justice will be served".
"The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia," Coleridge said in a statement.
"In the meantime, we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable."
The Vatican is yet to make an official statement.
Pell received a Companion for the Order of Australia in 2005 for his service to the Catholic Church.
Pell's former school St Patrick’s College in Ballarat has issued a statement saying it will remove Pell's name from a building named in his honour, in response to the conviction.
A line will also be struck through Pell's name on a College honour board for ordained former students and will revoke his status as an inducted Legend of the school.
“The jury’s verdict demonstrates that Cardinal Pell’s behaviours have not met the standards we expect of those we honour as role models for the young men we educate,” Headmaster John Crowley said.
“The College also remains ever mindful of the victims and survivors who require our ongoing care, solidarity and support.”
Australian media was unable to report on the conviction in December because of a suppression order that was lifted on Tuesday morning.
The order was put in place at the time to protect a second trial that was due to go ahead in April.
Prosecutors have since decided to not go ahead with the second case.
Pell has maintained his innocence over all allegations and his defence team has already lodged an appeal of his conviction.
His lawyers released a statement on Tuesday following the lifting of the suppression orders.
"Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so. An appeal has been lodged against his conviction and he will await the outcome of the appeal process," lawyer Paul Galbally said in a statement.
"Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued."
READ MORE: The Cardinal's Legacy: Crime And Cover-Up
To speak to somebody about sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or the Kids Helpline (ages 5 to 25) on 1800 55 1800.