Australian Cardinal George Pell has been released after his 2018 conviction was quashed in a 7-0 decision by the High Court of Australia. The Cardinal had spent roughly 400 days in prison after being convicted in 2018 of the sexual assault of two 13 year old boys in the mid 1990s.
Cardinal Pell, who was Archbishop of Melbourne at the time the abuse was alleged to have happened, had originally been found guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four charges of committing an act of indecency with or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years.
His conviction actually came after his second trial on these charges, as at the first the jury had been unable to come to a unanimous verdict on the charges, splitting 10-2 to acquit the Cardinal.
In their judgement the High Court found that there was “”a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”
The judgement also took aim at the Court of Appeals, which upload his conviction in a 2-1 decision in 2019, saying that their “analysis 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.”
Cardinal Pell has released a statement saying that he has “consistently maintained his innocence while suffering from a serious injury”, that he “feels no ill will towards his accuser”, and that he wishes to give a special thanks “for all the prayers and letters of support.”
The summary judgement can be read in full HERE.