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George Pell loses appeal against child sexual abuse convictions


Disgraced Cardinal George Pell has lost his appeal against child sexual abuse convictions.

Pell was found guilty by a jury of molesting two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s.

The 78-year-old needed three Court of Appeal judges to agree the jury must have had reasonable doubts for his conviction to be overturned.

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson announced Pell lost his appeal by a 2-1 majority verdict, with all 13 grounds for appeal dismissed.

Chief Justice Ferguson said, “this was a compelling witness, clearly not a liar”.

“Throughout his evidence the complainant came across as someone who was telling the truth.”

The decision was met with cheers from abuse survivors outside the court.

Pell will return to prison to serve the remainder of his minimum jail term of three years and eight months.

There is one final legal avenue for Pell, who could challenge the decision in the High Court.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has released a statement on Pell’s behalf.

“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today.”

However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.

While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence.

We thank his many supporters.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has addressed the issue, suggesting Pell will now lose his Order of Australia medal awarded in 2005 for services to the church.

“My understanding is that would result in the stripping of the honours that are decided externally to the government. That is a process that is done independently, and that of course will now follow.”

Victim’s advocate Michael tells Ben Fordham “victims are out celebrating”.

“It’s a wonderful day for victims, it’s a wonderful day for justice.

“We’re all still pinching ourselves.”

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3AW court reporter Stefanie Waclawick tells Steve Price, Pell has 28 days to appeal to the High Court.

“When the decision was handed down he looked down in his lap, he had one hand gripping the dock.

“There was certainly some disappointment on his face.”

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Image: Getty/Michael Dodge