Jury returns guilty verdict after three days of deliberation**
A jury has found Cdl. George Pell guilty on all counts related to sexually abusing two altar boys.
According to sources who spoke to The Daily Beast, a jury returned a unanimous verdict Tuesday against the Australian cardinal after three days of deliberation. Further details are unavailable as the court has issued a suppression order to Australian media to "prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice."
A previous trial resulted in a hung jury.
Pell had been accused of molesting two altar boys during a swimming trip in the 1990s, when he was bishop in Ballarat, a town northwest of Melbourne. Pell has vigorously denied the allegations, and his attorney, Robert Richter, said in 2017 that there is "voluminous" evidence to show that "what was alleged is impossible."
Although multiple accusations were levelled at the cardinal initially, the court threw out most of them.
Pell was named the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, making him the third highest-ranking cleric in Rome. He was brought in ostensibly to clean up Vatican finances, exercising oversight over Vatican properties and personnel.
His proposed reforms, however, which included demands for greater transparency, met with resistance. According to Vatican expert Edward Pentin, the "Old Guard" resisted reform out of fears it would reveal their corruption.
Pope Francis restricted Pell's powers without notice in a motu proprio he issued in 2016. And a financial audit by the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was cut short by the Secretary of State after only four months.
One source who spoke with Pentin complained that the reforms were "dead, over, finished, they've been blocked."
"The corruption continues; it’s just better concealed," the inside source added, saying Vatican finances had returned to being as bad as they were before Pell's reforms, and possibly worse.
Libero Milone, the Vatican's auditor general, initially put in place to implement reforms, was fired in 2017, the Vatican accusing him of "spying" on officials. Milone, however, claims it was the other way around: The Vatican was spying on him, and he was fired because he had discovered financial irregularities that threatened Vatican officials.
One week later, Pell left the Vatican, granted permission by Pope Francis to stand trial in Australian court over charges of "historical sexual offenses."
Some have called out the pope for an apparent double standard: In September he had refused to allow Cdl. Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to stand trial for allegations of sex abuse cover-up, citing sovereign immunity.
The Vatican’s third-most powerful official has been convicted in Australia on all charges he sexually abused two choir boys there in the late '90s, according to two sources with knowledge of the case.
A unanimous jury returned its verdict for Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday (Australian time) after more than three days of deliberations, the sources said, in a trial conducted under a gag order by the judge that prevented any details of the trial being made public.
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.
Steven Spaner, Australia coordinator from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) told The Daily Beast he felt frustrated and left “in the dark” following the secrecy surrounding the trial.
“It’s hard to know if there are any shenanigans going on—things the church did that are illegal themselves,” Spaner said. “There is always suspicion when you don’t know what is going on.”
Well I certainly did not expect this result. Astounding Actually. I recommend reading the rest of The Daily Best article. Very good.
Pizzagate Related since it deals with another High Level priest guilty of abusing Children.