Australia

George Pell's appeal against child sex abuse convictions to be decided on next week

Victoria's Court of Appeal is set to hand down its decision on Cardinal George Pell's appeal over his child sex abuse conviction. Source: AAP

Victoria's Court of Appeal will hand down its decision on Cardinal George Pell's appeal over his child sex abuse conviction next Wednesday.

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell will learn his fate in a week, with the outcome of his appeal against his choirboy molestation conviction due on Wednesday.

The 78-year-old could walk free, be sent to a retrial or remain in prison depending on the decision by the justices.

Cardinal George Pell leaves the Supreme Court of Victoria (AAP)
Cardinal George Pell leaves the Supreme Court of Victoria.
AAP

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Anne Ferguson will read out a summary of the Court of Appeal's decision on 21 August.

The proceedings will be live-streamed on the court's website for the world to watch, just as his sentencing in the County Court was broadcast.

The convicted pedophile is serving at least three years and eight months behind bars for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

The former senior Vatican official has always denied the charges.

He first went on trial in August 2018, but the jury was discharged because it could not make a unanimous decision.

A retrial in November and December convicted Pell, but the verdict was suppressed because of another child sexual abuse case which eventually did not go ahead.

In their appeal, Pell's legal team urged the judges to accept as "unsafe and unsatisfactory" the verdicts on one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four of committing indecent acts with or in the presence of a child.

The disgraced former cardinal will learn his fate next Wednesday.
The disgraced former cardinal will learn his fate next Wednesday.
AAP

While a surviving victim's evidence was accepted by the jury, Pell's lawyers said it was in the face of 20 prosecution witness who gave exculpatory evidence, including an alibi that it was Pell's practice to greet parishioners straight after mass and not return to the sacristy where the offending was said to have happened.

Prosecutors argued the evidence of the victim, now in his 30s, was moving enough to convince the jury that Pell was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The appeal decision will be delivered nearly three months after his appeal hearing, after which Justice Ferguson, Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg reserved their decision.

Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli on Wednesday revealed he had visited Pell in prison about two months ago.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli celebrating Mass
The Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli celebrating Mass
AAP

"He has a sense of waiting, as with anything there would be a psychological agitation about waiting for what's going to be the outcome of the appeal, but I found him strong spiritually and calm and very conversive," Archbishop Comensoli told ABC Melbourne.

Authorities are also investigating whether a letter circulating online, apparently written by Pell to supporters, breaks prison rules.

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