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AFP
August 22, 2019

Australia’s Cardinal Pell loses child sex abuse appeal

World

AFP
August 22, 2019

MELBOURNE: Disgraced Cardinal George Pell lost his appeal against child sex abuse convictions on Wednesday, prompting relief from victims who fought to bring one of the Catholic Church’s most powerful men to justice.

A former Vatican treasurer, Pell had been trying to overturn the verdicts and six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s. The high-profile case pitted 78-year-old -- who previously helped elect Popes, was a trusted papal aide and was involved in the church’s response to child sex abuse claims -- against a former choirboy now in his thirties.

Pell, dressed in a dark suit, occasionally bowed his head as Chief Justice Anne Ferguson dismissed his arguments and described his victim as "very compelling" and someone who "was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth."

The ruling prompted cheers to ripple into the courtroom from a large crowd gathered outside, and produced emotional statements from victims, their families and advocacy groups. The now-adult victim -- who cannot be named for legal reasons -- said the "stressful" four-year legal fight had taken him "to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from."

Dismissing vocal conservative media critics, the man said the death of his friend, the second choirboy, from a drug overdose had prompted him to break his decades-long silence. "After attending the funeral of my childhood friend... I felt a responsibility to come forward," he said in a statement read by his lawyer. "I am not an advocate. You wouldn’t know my name. I am not a champion for the cause of sexual abuse survivors."

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