Ex-Vatican treasurer loses appeal against sex abuse convictions

Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will remain in prison for at least another three years after losing an appeal against his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys, an Australian court ruled on Wednesday.

Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic worldwide to be convicted of child sex offenses, was jailed for six years in March after being found guilty on five charges of abusing the two boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s.

According Reuters said, supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said two of the three judges hearing Pell’s appeal “decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offenses charged” and rejected his appeal.

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Under the terms of his sentencing, Pell will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81.

Pell, wearing a black suit with a priest’s collar, sat quietly in the court with no discernible expression as Ferguson read the judgment.

The jury in his trial heard testimony from a victim who described how Pell had exposed himself to the two boys, fondled their genitals and masturbated, and forced one boy to perform a sex act on him. The other victim died in 2014.

“I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law,” the surviving choir boy, now in his 30s, said in a statement read out by his lawyer, Vivian Waller.

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“The criminal process has been stressful. The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from,” he said in the statement.

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