Australian Cardinal George Pell Convicted Of Child Sex Abuse

George Pell

Pell arrives for a meeting at the Vatican in 2013. AP AAP

The case hinged on the 35-year-old man's testimony.

"What absolute and disgraceful rubbish".

The fallout from his conviction began immediately, with Pell sacked from the Pope's Group of Nine advisers the day after, on December 12. The verdict was reached a year ago at the County Court of Victoria, but could not be reported until now for legal reasons.

Francis had tapped Pell as his economy minister in 2014 as part of Vatican determination to reform its scandal-plagued financial system, even though some allegations against the Australian were known at that time.

Pell is the world's most senior Catholic to be charged with or found guilty of child sex offences.

The cleric, who has remained free on bail, denied all the charges and an initial trial ended with a hung jury in September, but he was convicted on retrial on December 11.

The announcement of Pell's conviction comes in the same month that the Vatican announced Francis had approved the expulsion from the priesthood of a former high-ranking cardinal in the United States, and days after he concluded a first-ever summit of Catholic leaders on preventing clergy sexual abuse and protecting children.

The verdict represented "painful news that, as we are well aware, has shocked many people, not only in Australia", Gisotti said, adding that the Vatican is awaiting "the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal".

On his return to Australia, Pell insisted he had no wish to downplay sexual abuse in the Church but said other moral issues were getting far less attention.

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd told a previous hearing he was also planning to revoke Pell's bail during today's plea hearing, meaning he would be taken into custody unless his application to the higher court is successful.

However, the complainant's evidence was "powerful and persuasive", Crown prosecutor Mark Gibson said.

Jurors accepted the memories of the surviving choirboy, now in his 30s, about the bad minutes that followed that mass a week or two before Christmas.

In the first incident, the boys were swigging sacramental wine in the sacristy - a room where priests dress for mass - when Pell walked in wearing his full robes. He then forced them to perform a sex act on him. He then undid his trousers and pulled his penis from under his ceremonial robes. Then, the victim said, he masturbated them and himself.

The survivor recalled Pell orally raping him and demanding he then remove his trousers, which he did.

In 2008, the event would come to Sydney, hosted by Pell himself. The teen put his trousers back on and together the boys rejoined their choir.

A month or so after he was raped by Pell, he was sexually assaulted again, pushed against a cathedral wall by the now-Cardinal who fondled his genitals.

Instead he relied on dot points and bold quotes.

Mr Richter said the appeal application was made on three grounds, firstly that the verdict of the jury was unreasonable and contrary to evidence.

"These comments are a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the royal commission being faced by the Catholic Church and other institutions that deal with children", she said.

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