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Cardinal Pell Will Stand Trial On Sexual Assault Charges

May 2, 2018

Update: For the latest on this story, see these posts from Dec. 14, 2018, Feb. 26, 2019Mar. 13, 2019, and Aug. 21, 2019.

 

Cardinal George Pell is a well-known figure in Catholic circles. He has served the church for about 50 years, working in his home country of Australia and at the Vatican.

 

In the last few years, George Pell has mostly been associated with the same kind of sexual assault scandals that the church itself has been associated with in the last few decades. When Pell became the Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, he created "The Melbourne Response." The Melbourne Response was supposed to be a protocol to help victims of sexual abuse committed by clergy, but the program was widely criticized as insufficient.

In 2014, Pell was assigned to the newly created position Secretariat for the Economy. Pell moved to the Vatican to serve in this position. In 2015 and 2016, Pell was unable to travel back to Australia due to health concerns when he was ordered to give evidence before The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

 

Pell finally returned to Australia in 2017 to face abuse charges. Most of the specifics of the allegations and the evidence remain confidential. Over a period of several weeks dozens of witnesses testified against Pell. Yesterday, a magistrate ruled that about half the charges had sufficient evidence to go to trial.

 

While it is still likely months away, Pell will stand before a jury who will determine whether or not he is guilty of sexual abuse. Since beginning my blog I have covered a few stories involving the Catholic Church's sexual abuse controversy, but because of his importance within the church, Pell's trial is one of the more far-reaching stories I have covered.

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