Cardinal Pell denies abuse charges in Australian court

Paterniano Del Favero
Luglio 27, 2017

Pell will not have to enter a formal plea on the multiple historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants unless a magistrate decides there is enough evidence for him to stand trial in the County Court.

Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis' top financial adviser، Cardinal George Pell، made his first court appearance on Wednesday after being charged last month with sexual abuse of multiple individuals years earlier in his Australian home state of Victoria.

The prosecution has until September 8 to hand over its brief of evidence to the defence, although prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC said that could occur as soon as next week.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop and Ballarat priest has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained he is innocent.

Both walking in and out the hearing Wednesday, Pell was surrounded by a dozen policemen as media and victims of abuse and their supporters crowded around him.

Mr Pell has previously said he was looking forward to his day in court to fight charges he said are false. Supporters of Cardinal Pell were also present outside of the courthouse.

While the details of the charges against the 76-year-old cleric - who has maintained his innocence - are yet to be revealed to the public، police have described them as historical sexual assault offenses، which means the alleged crimes happened years ago.

Last year, Pell claimed he was too sick to return to Australia to report to the country's Royal Commission into Child Abuse, which found some 4,000 predominantly-religious institutions implicated in the sexual abuse of children.

Despite having testified before the commission twice before on the same charges, Pell again offered to give his testimony, which he did via video conference from Rome.

Cardinal Pell has also been supported by the Vatican, which issued a June 29 communique from Holy See spokesman Greg Buke echoing Pell's statement and affirming that Pope Francis had granted the cardinal an absence from his duties "so he can defend himself".

Burke closed by noting that Cardinal Pell will no longer be attending public events while facing the charges.

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