CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault.

Convicted paedophile Cardinal George Pell has been granted one last chance to appeal his conviction, with the High Court of Australia this morning granting the 78-year-old special leave to make his appeal.

Nine News reports the decision marks his final shot to overturn the conviction. His lawyers are now expected to file to appeal, with the hearing not likely to take place until 2020.

Pell, who was sentenced this year to six years behind bars after being convicted of molesting two Melbourne choirboys in the 1990s, had his first appeal quashed in August in a 2-1 verdict.

ABC reports that Pell’s legal team believes that Court of Appeal’s decision was flawed. 

His representatives argue the court effectively asked Pell to prove his crimes were impossible, instead of forcing the prosecution to prove Pell was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Then there’s the matter of dissenting Justice Mark Weinberg, the one in that 2-1 decision, who found the complainant was prone to “embellishing” elements of his account, adding it was “impossible” to accept elements of their testimony.

You can read more about that judgment here.

Pell still has legions of supporters outside of his legal team, too. The Catholic Church has declined to defrock him while the appeal process has not been exhausted, while conservative columnist Andrew Bolt has written several pieces expressing his disbelief at the verdict and the first failed appeal.

But a father of one of the victims, who died before Pell’s conviction, recently penned a letter to the Vatican asking why he remains a cardinal and questioning the status of the Catholic Church’s own investigation into Pell’s conduct.

More to come.


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.

Image: Andy Brownbill / AP Photo