Cardinal George Pell, Vatican treasurer and 3rd most senior Catholic in the world found guilty of child sexual assault

Cardinal George Pell sexual abuse

Cardinal George Pell, once the third most powerful man in the Vatican and Australia’s most senior Catholic, has been found guilty of child sexual abuse after a trial in Melbourne.

Pell is almost certain to face prison after a jury found him guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of an indecent act with or in the presence of a child in the late 1990s.

The conviction of Pell, the Vatican treasurer and a close adviser to Pope Francis, will send shockwaves through the church, which is already reeling from accusations of sexual abuse committed by priests worldwide.

Pell is the most senior Catholic official to be found guilty of child sex offenses to date. His conviction brings the escalating international controversy around the abuse of children in Catholic institutions straight to the doors of the Holy See.

A court order banning media reporting of Pell’s five-week long trial, which began in November 2018, was lifted by Chief Judge Peter Kidd on Tuesday. The prosecution’s case hinged on the testimony of one man, who said Pell sexually abused him and another boy in Melbourne’s historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral after mass one Sunday.

The second victim later died from a drug overdose having never revealed the abuse to anyone, while the surviving accuser can not be identified under Australian law governing sex abuse victims.