PELL CLEARED: Cardinal will walk free from jail after 400 days behind bars as the High Court OVERTURNS his convictions for sexually assaulting two choirboys
- Cardinal George Pell had his convictions for sexually assaulting boys quashed
- Lawyers for Pell argued their client was treated unreasonably during a jury trial
- Former senior Vatican official had denied sexually abusing choirboys in 1990s
- He was found guilty in 2018 over incident at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996
- Prosecutors stumbled in their attack on Pell’s defence during his original appeal
- Supreme Court judge who ruled in Pell’s favour was overruled by his colleagues
Cardinal George Pell will walk free from jail today after the High Court quashed his conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys.
Australia’s most senior Catholic was convicted in 2018 of performing sex acts on the boys in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.
The decision overturns an earlier ruling by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Justice Anne Ferguson, president of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell, and Justice Mark Weinberg.
It had taken them nine weeks to come to their decision. It took the High Court a little under four to reverse it.
Much of Pell’s case centred on whether he had an opportunity to commit the offences at all.
In a summary of the decision handed down by the High Court on Tuesday, it stated the Supreme Court judges’ analysis ‘failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.’
His successful appeal is likely to bring an end to the ongoing saga, which has dragged on for years across four court jurisdictions.
The jury in the original trial found Pell guilty of sexually abusing two boys in the priests’ sacristy at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral after presiding over one of his first Sunday masses as archbishop in the 1990s.
The jury further accepted he abused one of the boys a second time in a corridor at the rear of the cathedral after another Sunday mass.