Cardinal George Pell will walk free from prison after the High Court of Australia today quashed his convictions on child sex abuse charges.
The High Court, Australia’s highest court of appeal, this morning announced it has unanimously granted Pell special leave to appeal.
The move means Pell, Australia’s highest ranking Catholic official, has been acquitted of all charges laid against him.
Pell was convicted in 2018 on five charges of sexually abusing two choirboys at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral between 1996 and 1997.
For those convictions, he was sentenced to six years in prison.
Pell first appealed those convictions with the Victorian Court of Appeal, which upheld his conviction last year in a 2-1 vote.
But his legal team argued to the High Court that the Victorian Court of Appeal did not properly assess evidence which cast reasonable doubt on Pell’s guilt.
That argument was acknowledged today.
“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt,” today’s summary judgment states.
The High Court added that the Victorian Court of Appeal “failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”
ABC reports that after 404 days behind bars, Pell is slated to be freed from Victoria’s Barwon Prison today.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.