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cardinal George Pell

Vatican treasurer faces sexual assault charges

Cardinal George Pell, one amongst the most senior figures in the Vatican will appear in the dock at Melbourne Magistrates Court for his first hearing since the charges were created by Victoria Police against him last month.

The 76-year-old, who has strongly denied the charges, has been given an absence leave from his role at the Vatican as Secretariat for the Economy while he settles the case in the city where he was once an archbishop.

The cardinal, who is being represented by one of Australia’s leading criminal barristers, robert Richter QC, has risen through the ranks from operating as a young priest in Victoria to the third most powerful figure inside the inner sanctum of the Vatican with Pope Francis.

The charges against Pell return after a special police task-force was created in 2013 to research complaints of abuse by Catholic clergy and other religious orders and institutions.

The cardinal was charged on June 29 of this year on summons by Victoria Police and ordered to appear in court for his 1st hearing Wed.

Pell has strongly denied the allegations

During a media conference at the Vatican after being charged he said: “I am looking forward, finally, to having my day in court.

“I am innocent of those charges; they’re false. the entire idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Cardinal Pell further said last month that he hoped to return to his role in Rome after the conclusion of the legal case that was designed up against him.

“All along I actually have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of those allegations,” he said at the news conference at the Vatican.

“News of those charges strengthens my resolve. And court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name then come back here back to Rome to work.”