Australia’s most senior Catholic George Pell has been found guilty and is facing prison time for sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s.
Pell has been found guilty of orally raping one child and molesting another while he was Archbishop of Melbourne, ABC News reported.
Pell’s victims were two 13-year-old boys who attended the prestigious St Kevin’s College and sang in the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir, as part of a music program run by the school.
The offences occurred in December 1996 and early 1997 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, just months after Pell’s inauguration as Archbishop of Melbourne.
One of the two victims, who has requested anonymity, responded to the guilty verdict against Pell in a statement through his lawyer.
“Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle,” he said.
“It has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.
“At some point we realise that we trusted someone we should have feared and we fear those genuine relationships that we should trust.
“The process has been stressful and it’s not over yet. I need space and time to cope with the ongoing criminal process.”
Pell was charged in 2017 and a jury delivered the unanimous verdict on December 11 last year in Melbourne’s county court, following a five-week trial and three days of jury deliberations. Pell has been free on bail.
Details of the case could not be reported until now because of a suppression order to prevent prejudice of a second trial, which has been dropped.
Pell, who is currently on leave from his role as Vatican treasurer, has maintained his innocence of all the allegations and his lawyer said Pell has lodged an appeal against the conviction.
During a police interview in 2016, Pell dismissed the allegations as “a load of garbage and… a deranged falsehood”.
“What a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish. Completely false. Madness,” Pell said when confronted with the allegation he had exposed his penis to one of his victims.
Pell will most likely be sentenced within the next fortnight, the ABC reported, and is the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of child sex abuse.
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