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Hearing decision to be handed down today — Cardinal George Pell
May 23 2018, 01:19 | Irvin Gilbert
Pell arriving in court last
The 76-year-old cardinal was facing multiple charges of historical sex assault offenses from a number of complainants.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington discharged numerous allegations made during a four-week pre-trial committal hearing in March, saying there was insufficient evidence, but concluded he should face court over two counts of an alleged offences at a swimming pool in Ballarat, where Pell worked as a priest in the 1970s.
As the Vatican's de facto finance chief, he was granted leave by the pope to return to Australia to conduct his defense.
Robert Richter QC with his client, Cardinal Pell.
During the pre-trial hearing, Prosecutor Mark Gibson had said none of the complainants had resiled from their allegations against Pell under cross-examination and Victoria Police Detective Sergeant Chris Reed refuted Richter's suggestions of serious flaws in the police investigation. Since Pell returned to Australia from the Vatican in July, he has lived in Sydney and flown to Melbourne for his court hearings. Pell went on to become the Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. Pell said he intends to continue his work as a prefect of the church's economy ministry once the case is resolved.
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During the hearing, the court heard allegations of sexual offending occurring at a swimming pool, cinema and cathedral spanning from the 1970's to 1990's.
But over the following weeks, details of the allegations against Cardinal Pell emerged.
He will be tried on at least one charge after being accused of sexually abusing multiple victims decades ago.
Critics argue that the Catholic Church has done little to bring perpetrators to justice, despite Pope Francis pledging "zero tolerance" in 2014 on sexual abuse.
The precise nature of the allegations, made by several people, has not been made public. He did not attend in person because of a heart condition and other medical problems. He has denied those accusations. Pell's lawyers told the court in February that the first complainant approached police in 2015, 40 years after the alleged crimes, in response to media reports about the royal commission.