Cardinal George Pell’s High Court appeal against his conviction for abusing two choirboys will proceed in March. The court announced it will hear the case on 11 and 12 March. The news comes following the Victorian director of prosecutions dropping some charges over the reporting of Pell’s original trial.
Judge Peter Kidd previously sentenced George Pell to six years’ jail in March last year. The sentence carries a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
Following his conviction, Pell’s lawyers took his case to the Victorian Court of Appeal. In August, two of the three judges from the court turned down the primary ground of that appeal, that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable. All three judges unanimously turned down two other grounds of appeal claiming errors in the running of the trial.
Pell’s defenders seize on the dissenting opinion of the one judge on one ground to continue to claim his innocence.
Contempt charges over George Pell trial dropped
Meanwhile, the Victorian prosecutor yesterday dropped an additional 28 charges against media outlets over their reporting during Pell’s original trial. Judge Peter Kidd originally imposed a suppression order on any reporting of the trial. However, outlets outside Australia and social media leaked details including the guilty verdict. That led to the bizarre situation where Australian media outlets could not report on a fact already known to most Australians.
The charges resulted from instances of media outlets hinting at the verdict or reporting that they could not report on a certain case.
Despite the dropping of the 28 charges yesterday, a further 100 charges remain outstanding against various media outlets.
George Pell, convicted child abuser, remains a cardinal
Although convicted on one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of a child, Pell remains a cardinal.
The Vatican previously indicated the Pope would only take action against Pell once all legal avenues are exhausted.
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