Cardinal Pell to appeal verdict

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Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court 6 October, 2018. PHOTO: CNS/Mark Dadswell, Reuters

Cardinal George Pell will appeal the guilty verdict found against him on historical sexual abuse charges and strenuously maintains his innocence.

A judge in the County Court of Victoria today lifted a suppression order on the reporting of the Cardinal’s trials, after prosecutors withdrew a set of charges against him relating to other allegations.

“[The Cardinal] has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so,” a statement from the Cardinal’s lawyers Galbally & O’Bryan Lawyers said.

“An appeal has been lodged against his conviction and he will await the outcome of the appeal process.

Related article: Fr Frank Brennan SJ: The Pell Verdict

“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allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued.

“He will not be commenting in the meantime.”

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Mark Coleridge said that the news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges “has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia”.

“The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system,” Archbishop Coleridge said in a statement.

“The same legal system that delivered the verdict will consider the appeal that the Cardinal’s legal team has lodged.

Related article: Cardinal Pell awaits sentencing

“Our hope, at all times, is that through this process, justice will be served.

“In the meantime, we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable.”

Cardinal Pell was found guilty on December 11 last year in a retrial on five charges related to incidents at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996. A jury in a first trial was unable to reach a verdict.

He is expected to be sentenced next week.

No date has been set for his appeal.