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Australian Cardinal Pell, top Vatican official, found guilty of sexual abuse

Australian Cardinal Pell, top Vatican official, found guilty of sexual abuse”

A Melbourne jury in December found Pell guilty of five charges-one of sexually penetrating a child and four of committing indecent acts with children.

Cardinal George Pell was ordered held in custody Wednesday following his historic conviction for child sex crimes, capping an extraordinary fall from grace for one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church. "May you rot in hell", one protester shouted.

Victorian state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd revoked Cardinal George Pell's bail at the end of a sentencing hearing in a packed, standing room-only courtroom.

George Pell is expected to be sentenced in the next two weeks.

At that trial, and after Pell's defense demonstrated that it was physically impossible for the crimes with which he was charged to have occurred, a jury voted 10-2 to acquit him; but that meant a hung jury (several of whose members wept as their verdict was read), and the Crown made a decision to proceed with a re-trial.

Pell was convicted in December of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys in 1996 and 1997 at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral.

An Australian court has found Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer and a former top adviser to Pope Francis, guilty on five charges of sexual offences committed more than two decades ago against two 13-year-old boys.

Pell sat emotionless in the dock flanked by three uniformed officers as the court also heard there would be two victim impact statements tendered.

The verdict wasn't officially disclosed until Tuesday, when Kidd lifted a worldwide suppression order that had failed to stop news spreading over the Internet and into media outlets.

Pell, 77, will be taken into custody at the conclusion of today's hearing after his legal team withdrew a bail application set down for this afternoon.

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"Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued. I'm imposing sentence on Cardinal Pell for what he did", Kidd said.

Cardinal Pell had been accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Each conviction carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The character references spoke of Pell's kindness and generosity "above and beyond that of a priest", of "a man who has a great sense of humour" who relates "to everyone "from prime ministers to street cleaners" Richter said". He never reported the abuse. On clarifying that the crimes allegedly occurred in a sacristy after Mass, Pell told police: "That's good for me because it makes it even more fantastical".

The other victim was unable to give evidence as he passed away in 2014. In a tweet late on Tuesday night, Gisotti said Pell "is no longer the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy".

"To all of you out there who have been the victims of child sexual abuse, know that we're thinking of you, know that people around you who love you and care for you, they want the best for you", he said.

One of Pell's victims issued a statement through his lawyers.

Until the verdict, Pell's lawyers had appeared confident that they had established a reasonable doubt in the minds of the 12-member jury.

The announcement of Pell's conviction comes in the same month that the Vatican announced Francis had approved the expulsion from the priesthood of a former high-ranking cardinal in the United States, and days after he concluded a first-ever summit of Catholic leaders on preventing clergy sexual abuse and protecting children.

"We now await the outcome of the appeal trial, recalling that Cardinal Pell has reaffirmed his innocence and has the right to defend himself to the last degree", he said.



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