Cardinal Pell will stand trial on sexual offence charge, court rules

May 01, 2018, 08:45
Cardinal Pell will stand trial on sexual offence charge, court rules

The 76-year-old cardinal arrived in court Tuesday morning to a huge police presence for the decision that followed weeks of evidence from multiple complainants who detailed alleged abuse stretching as far back as the 1970s.

Shortly before 10am, Cardinal George Pell will presumably pull up in a white auto outside the Melbourne Magistrate's Court, as he did for his month-long committal hearing.

Cardinal Pell was called back from Rome to his home country previous year to face the charges. When asked to enter a plea, the cardinal said in a loud, clear voice, "not guilty".

Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington decided the prosecution's case against Pell was strong enough to warrant a trial by jury, but she dismissed other charges at the culmination of his preliminary hearing.

His committal hearing is believed to have been one of the longest ever in the Australian state of Victoria, the capital of which is the city of Melbourne where Pell's legal proceedings have unfolded. He then brought his hand to his mouth and coughed.

Charges associated with two of the complainants have since been dropped, as one of them died in January and the other is medically unable to testify.

Cardinal Pell has rejected the accusations, saying a year ago: "I am innocent of these charges, they are false".

The Cardinal has vehemently denied all allegations since the day he was charged in June past year.

Wallington said there were inconsistencies in the complainant's evidence and that there was insufficient weight for Pell to stand trial before a judge and jury on those charges.

Richter said the evidence showed the worst of the allegations, including an alleged offence at a movie theatre, could not have occurred and he described the other charges as "reasonably insignificant".

Wearing a cleric's collar, Pell earlier arrived by auto in front of the downtown court where police officers were waiting to maintain order. He wore a dark coloured suit and white shirt. Some protesters shouted as he arrived.

Ms Wallington took a fortnight to consider her decision on whether to commit Cardinal Pell to stand trial.

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

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