Published: Wed, August 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

George Pell loses appeal against child sex abuse convictions

George Pell loses appeal against child sex abuse convictions

Cardinal George Pell will this morning learn the outcome of his appeal against a conviction for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choir boys.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson will read out a summary of the decision, which could be majority or unanimous, with the proceedings to be live-streamed on the court's website from 9:30 am on Wednesday (2330 GMT Tuesday).

Pell was in March sentenced to a six-year jail term after last year being found guilty by a jury of five offences including sexual penetration of a child.

Legal experts had said that whatever the outcome, the decision would likely be appealed to Australia's High Court.

"My understanding is that this (appeal loss) would result in the stripping of the honours that are decided externally to the government", Mr Morrison said.

Lawyer Lisa Flynn said the father had an "extremely tough wait" for this judgment and the court made the correct decision.

Justice Ferguson said there was nothing in the evidence from the complainant, or about the opportunity to offend, that meant the jury "must have had a doubt" as to his guilt.

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"And as I said at the time of the earlier finding that events like this today bring it all back".

The two judges "accepted the prosecution's submission that the complainant was a very compelling witness, clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth", Ferguson said.

A lawyer for the father of the second victim - who died of a drug overdose in 2014 - said he felt "a weight had been lifted".

They also ruled that Pell was not required to be physically present when he was arraigned - officially asked how he pleaded - in front of the jury pool.

Pell challenged the verdict by arguing it was "unreasonable" because there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. "The disgraced cardinal is in the right place behind bars". The jury also concluded that Pell in late 1996 had orally raped the same choirboy and indecently dealt with the boy and his friend in a rear room of the cathedral after catching them swigging altar wine.

The two judges agreed that it was possible for the offences to occur, rejecting Pell's defence team's claims.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

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