Published: Fri, November 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Cardinal Pell gets another day in court News

Cardinal Pell gets another day in court News

Cardinal George Pell has been given another chance to try to overturn his conviction for historical sexual abuse offences after the High Court in Canberra today granted special leave to appeal to the highest court in the land.

It will allow a full court to decide whether or not to grant special leave and allow an appeal, all in the same judgement.

"There has been some high points, in that when the jury made their unanimous decision to convict Pell, but every appeal that is announced by Pell is a downturn".

At the end of last year, Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage choirboys during his time as Archbishop of Melbourne, with the senior Catholic then handed a six-year prison sentence for his crimes with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

"This will prolong what has been a lengthy and hard process, but we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as reasonably possible and that the high court's judgment will bring clarity and a resolution for all", the archbishop said.

The cardinal, 78, who remains an archbishop and a member of the College of Cardinals, was returned to prison immediately after court adjourned.

Blue Knot Foundation President Cathy Kezelman said the publicity around the high-profile case would result in many victims revisiting their own trauma.

A date for the appeal hearing has yet to be set and will likely be in early 2020.

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The lawyer for Pell's accuser, whose identity has been protected, said her client respected the appeals process despite the ups and downs he had been through. The court rejects around 90% of such applications.

In August, the conviction was upheld two-to-one by a panel of justices on the Victorian Court of Appeal.

Pell's legal team previously argued an appeal claiming the verdicts were unreasonable and that insufficient evidence was provided in relation to the crimes in the late 1990s.

In their written submission to the High Court, prosecutors wrote that Pell's legal team was asking High Court judges to apply established principles to the facts of the case, which were already carefully and thoroughly explored by the state appeals court. Now it's going out of Victoria to the high court to be rehashed over.

The prosecution rested on the testimony of one of the alleged victims - the one reported to have suffered two instances of abuse by Cardinal Pell.

After Pell lost his first appeal in a 2-1 decision, the surviving victim, a parent now aged 36, said, "I just hope that it's all over now".

"I can understand that there are many survivors who might feel disappointed by the outcome and I can also understand that there are a lot of people who feel very deeply for my client and are concerned for his wellbeing and those sentiments are greatly appreciated", Waller told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Pell is the most high-ranking Catholic official in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

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