George Pell Granted Final Appeal For Abuse Convictions
Cardinal George Pell has been granted one final chance to fight his child sex abuse convictions.
The High Court of Australia has agreed to hear appeal arguments against the 78-year-old's child sexual abuse conviction.
It will allow a full court to decide whether or not to grant special leave and allow an appeal, all in the same judgement.
A hearing date is likely to be set for next year.
The former Vatican treasurer did not travel to Canberra for the hearing and did not appear via video link. He is currently being held in the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
In December, the 78-year-old was convicted of sexually assaulting two choirboys at St Patrick's Cathedral in the 1990s when he was the archbishop of Melbourne.
He was sentenced to six-years prison with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
Pell's appeal was dismissed by the Victorian Court of appeal in August in a majority 2-1 decision, prompting his lawyers to take the matter to the high court.
Pell denies any wrongdoing.
The court made its decision on Wednesday without hearing directly from Pell's legal team or the prosecutors. It was based on written submissions only.
Lawyers for Pell argued in their lengthy 12-page application that the appeals court made two errors -- asking the Cardinal to prove his offending was impossible and finding the jurors guilty verdicts were reasonable.
They claimed there was reasonable doubt about whether the opportunity to commit the crimes ever existed.
Prosecutors urged the court to apply established principles to the facts of the case which were "carefully and thoroughly" delivered during the trial.
The conviction came following the testimony of one victim -- the second died of a heroin overdose in 2014 without telling his story.
The father of the deceased victim said he is "gutted" by the High Court's decision.
"This is a sad day for him," his lawyer Lisa Flynn said in a statement.
"He was hopeful that it would all be over today as he continues to be re-traumatised by the unending legal action. His pain and suffering remains raw and unresolved”.
A spokesperson for Pell issued a statement confirming that a comment cannot be made as the matter is before the courts.
In August, the Vatican confirmed that it would let Pell exhaust all of his legal avenues of appeal before launching its own investigation. He has not been defrocked.