Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty and is set to be jailed for child sexual abuse in the most sensational verdict since the Catholic Church became engulfed in worldwide abuse scandals.
By Adam Cooper
Pell, who was Vatican treasurer, close to the Pope and the most senior Catholic figure in the world to be charged by police with child sex offences, has been found guilty of orally raping one choirboy and molesting another in Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral 22 years ago.
Australian media has been unable to report the guilty verdict until now, due to a suppression order.
A second trial, over allegations Pell abused boys in a swimming pool in Ballarat in the 1970s, has now been abandoned due to lack of admissable evidence and the suppression order lifted.
The cardinal was Archbishop of Melbourne when he abused the two 13-year-old boys and was managing the church’s response to widespread child abuse by priests through the “Melbourne Response”, which he designed.
He was found guilty in a retrial last December, with the verdict sending shockwaves through the Vatican and around the world. A jury in an earlier trial was discharged, in September, when it was unable to reach a verdict. His legal team will appeal against the conviction.
County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd has now revoked the suppression order that prevented media reporting the results of the trial and retrial.
Pell emerged from the court building about 11.30am to a huge media pack. Flanked by police officers, he was jeered and abused by some people outside.
“You’re an absolute animal,” one man shouted at him as police and protective services officers ushered the cardinal to a waiting car.
“Burn in hell, Pell. Burn in hell, Pell,” the man chanted.