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Cardinal seeks High Court appeal

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Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by police as he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in October 2017. Photo: Mark Dadswell, Reuters

Cardinal George Pell’s legal team has applied for leave to appeal his conviction for historical sexual abuse in the High Court of Australia.

The Victorian Court of Appeal upheld the cardinal’s conviction in a two to one split decision by three judges on 21 August.

He is currently serving a maximum six-year jail sentence, at least until at least October 2022, when his non-parole period ends.

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The cardinal’s legal team lodged a request for leave to appeal the country’s highest court on 17 September. The 78-year-old cardinal has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing but there is no guarantee that the High Court will hear the appeal.

He was found guilty last December of molesting two St Patrick’s Cathedral choirboys in 1996 months after being appointed Archbishop of Melbourne.

The guilty verdicts came at the end of a retrial after an original jury was unable to reach a majority verdict.

Following last month’s appeal decision which was handed down by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Anne Ferguson, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP vowed to ensure that the Sydney Archdiocese is “doing all we can to ensure that past crimes are never repeated and that Church environments are the safest possible for children and vulnerable adults”.

He called for “calm and civility” following the split decision which he said was consistent with the differing views of the juries in the first and second trials.

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