George Pell’s Conviction Has Been Upheld On Appeal

Pell's legal team is expected to appeal the decision to the High Court.

Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced after being found guilty of child sex abuse

Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historic child sex abuse charges has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Warning: this article discusses sexual and child abuse. 

The justices voted 2-1 to dismiss Pell’s appeal, with Chief Justice Anne Ferguson telling the court that “there was nothing about the complainant’s evidence or about the opportunity evidence which meant that the jury must have had a doubt about the truth of the complainant’s account”.

“Throughout his evidence, the complainant came across as someone who was telling the truth. He did not seek to embellish his evidence or tailor it in a manner favourable to the prosecution.”

Pell, once the highest ranking Australian in the Catholic church, was in March sentenced to six years in prison after a jury found he had sexually abused two choir boys in Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997 while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence, with his lawyer telling the appeals court in June that the surviving accuser was a “liar and fantasist”.

Advocacy groups have previously warned that an acquittal may deter other victims of clerical abuse from coming forward. Speaking to Nine newspapers, Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood in the UK, said that Pell walking free would send the message that “whatever the rights and wrongs” of the case, “if you are sufficiently rich and powerful the system will work for you more than it works for victims”.

Pell’s legal team is expected to appeal the decision to the High Court. Until then, he will remain in prison.

The cardinal’s initial conviction sent shock waves through the Catholic community, while a number of prominent conservatives, including News Corp columnists Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine, and former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard, offered spirited defence of the clergyman’s character. Bolt has already weighed in on today’s verdict and, surprise surprise, he’s not happy.

More to come.

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