Earlier this month, Cardinal George Pell, who was the third most powerful official at the Vatican, was reportedly convicted in Australia on charges that he sexually abused two choir boys in the late 90s.
Pell was found guilty December 11 on five charges of sexual abuse of minors, the National Catholic Register reported, but due to a secret court injunction, the details of the case from start to finish are barred from being discussed or reported in Australian media.
According to sources with knowledge of the trial, Pell was convicted on five counts of sexual abuse. Only one of his victims was present to give testimony during his trial. The other died of a drug overdose in 2014. Pell was the Vatican’s finance chief and the highest Vatican official to ever go on trial for sex abuse, the Daily Beast reported on December 11.
From the Daily Beast:
In a book published last year, journalist Louise Milligan reportedly wrote that Pell was accused by two former choir boys of sexual abuse while he was archbishop of Melbourne in the ’90s. The boys sang in the choir at St. Patrick’s cathedral and were allegedly abused by Pell in a room in the confines of the church. Pell’s office told The Guardian in 2017 he “repeats his vehement and consistent denials of any and all such accusations.”
A second trial known as “the swimmers trial” is due to get underway early next year, according to sources familiar with the case. That trial is expected to hear evidence that Pell “sexually offended” two men when they were boys playing games in a swimming pool in Ballarat, Victoria. At the time of the allegations, which date back to the ’70s when Pell was a priest in the area, according to The Guardian.
A court in Victoria heard in March that Pell, who has denied all of the allegations, would stay in the pool after swimming laps and play with children.
The Daily Beast reported that Pell has retained a team of high-priced star lawyers for the next phase of his prosecution, one of whom is Robert Richter who reportedly charges $11,000 a day for his services. No one knows who is paying Pell’s legal bills, which are expected to run into the millions of dollars, but some think they may have an idea.
“It’s highly unlikely his defense is being paid for entirely by supporters or parishioners,” a source told the Daily Beast. “His legal bills will be astronomical when it’s all over. If it is the Church, the costs will be very well hidden.”
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