Australian cardinal to face trial on sexual abuse charges

Source: Associated Press

BY ROD McGUIRK

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis, on Tuesday officially denied charges of sexual abuse spanning decades after his lawyers failed to sway a court to dismiss them.

Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic will appear for the first time on Wednesday in the Victoria state County Court, where he has been ordered to stand trial at a date yet to be set.

Lawyers for Pell, Pope Francis’ finance minister, have been fighting the allegations since before he was charged last June with allegations of sexual abuse against multiples people in Victoria from the time he was a priest in his hometown of Ballarat in the 1970s until the 1990s, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington on Tuesday dismissed about half the charges that had been heard in a four-week preliminary hearing in Melbourne but decided the prosecution’s case was strong enough for the remainder to warrant a trial by jury. The details of the allegations and the number of charges have not been made public.

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