Cardinal George Pell loses appeal against sexual abuse convictions

Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell's convictions were overturned by Australia's highest court

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of sexual abuse, has failed in a legal bid to quash his convictions in Australia.

Pell was jailed for six years in March after being found guilty of abusing two boys in a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s. He maintains his innocence.

A court of appeal rejected Pell’s argument that the verdict was unfair.

The former Vatican treasurer, 78, will now remain in jail until he is eligible for parole in October 2022.

Last December, a jury unanimously convicted Pell of sexually abusing the 13-year-old boys after a mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and of abusing one of the boys again on another occasion.

Pell challenged the verdict by arguing it was “unreasonable” because there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt.

The cleric’s lawyers said the jury had relied too heavily on the “uncorroborated evidence” of the sole surviving victim. But his appeal was dismissed 2-1 by a panel of three judges in Victoria’s Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

“Justice [Chris] Maxwell and I accepted the prosecution’s submission that the complainant was a compelling witness, was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth,” said Chief Justice Anne Ferguson.

Pell was present for the hearing.


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