Australian Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty on five charges related to serious sexual misconduct involving two boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in the 1990s.
Cardinal Pell is expected to appeal the conviction.
Sources said Cardinal Pell pleaded not guilty to all charges but was found guilty on December 11 by a jury of 12 people, who delivered a unanimous verdict, as required by Victoria state statutes; the jury had deliberated for four days.
The trial took place before Judge Peter Kidd of the County Court of the State of Victoria; it was one of two trials Cardinal Pell is reportedly facing on accusations of abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1970s and in the 1990s.
Following a month-long pre-trial hearing in May, the court ordered Cardinal Pell to stand trial on multiple charges of sexual abuse of minors, charges the cardinal consistently denied. The trial was split in two: one for the events in Melbourne in 1990s and one for the events in Ballarat in 1970s.
The first trial, for the Melbourne events, began in August, but resulted in a hung jury.
One of the alleged survivors has died since the events and the other gave evidence via video link to the court. Neither has been named.
Lawyers for Cardinal Pell, led by Robert Richter, are understood to have indicated they will appeal, but that would take place after the cardinal is sentenced in February. The second trial, focusing on the alleged events in Ballarat, reportedly will begin in March.
Australian media organisations are petitioning the court to release details of the trial and verdict. The court had issued the gag order to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.”
Although some of the initial charges brought by prosecutors were dismissed, including what Cardinal Pell’s lawyer described as the most “vile”, Magistrate Belinda, Wallington announced on May 1 that she believed there was enough evidence presented in connection with about half the original charges to warrant a full trial.
Cardinal Pell was appointed head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy by Pope Francis in 2014 but took a leave of absence from his position in mid-2017 to face the charges.