Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of sexual abuse, has failed in a legal bid to quash his convictions in Australia.
Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, was jailed for six years in March after being found guilty of abusing two boys in a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s. He maintains his innocence.
There were three grounds of appeal. Two were procedural or technical: the plea of not guilty was not made in the presence of the jury panel; and the defence was not permitted to play a “visual representation” of part of its argument in its closing address.
Essentially, both arguments claimed a “substantial miscarriage of justice”. The court unanimously rejected these arguments.
But the main argument was that the jury’s verdict was “unreasonable or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence”.
Last December, a jury unanimously convicted Pell of sexually abusing the 13-year-old boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
A court of appeal rejected Pell’s argument that the verdict was unfair.
Pell, 78, will now remain in jail until he is eligible for parole in October 2022.
George Pell will face multiple civil court actions over child sex abuse regardless of the outcome of today’s appeal judgment on his criminal convictions. Pell is believed to have been severely financially strained by the lengthy court action he has faced and he is unlikely to have a significant amount of money left in his own name. He was convicted of abusing the two teenage choirboys in a sacristy in St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.