Why George Pell's conviction is only being reported now

George Pell

Cardinal George Pell is set for sentence hearings on Wednesday following a case in which he was found guilty of the 1996 sexual offences in Melbourne cathedral, Australia.

The 77-year-old Vatican treasurer lodged an appeal against the charges.

Reports indicates that Pell will be the highest-ranking Catholic figure to receive such a conviction, following his powerful ranks in the institution.

Delayed verdict

The verdict was handed down in December, but it could not be reported until now due to legal reasons.

CNN and all other news outlets that are accessible within Australia were legally prohibited from reporting on the trial or the conviction.

"Under Australian law, everything was suppressed due to concerns they could prejudice future juries." CNN explains.

The legal restrictions were lifted on Tuesday morning in Melbourne because a planned second trial was called off.

Charges

A second jury unanimously convicted him of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

Pell was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 when he found the two 13-year-old boys in cathedral rooms following a mass, the County Court of Victoria was told.

After telling them they were in trouble for drinking communion wine, Pell forced each boy into indecent acts, prosecutors said. He abused one of the boys again in 1997.

The court heard testimony from one of the victims. The other died of a drug overdose in 2014.

A jury rejected an argument by Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter QC, that the allegations were fantasies contrived by the victims.

The Catholic Church worldwide has in recent years faced a damaging series of allegations relating to sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up.

 

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