Australian High Court agrees to hear ex-Vatican treasurer’s sex offences appeal

MELBOURNE: Australia's High Court on Wednesday (Nov 13) agreed to hear a final appeal from Vatican treasurer George Pell over his conviction for sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys.

Pell, who is in jail serving a six-year sentence handed down by a lower court in March, turned to the High Court after a first appeal upheld his conviction.

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The High Court appeal hearing, to be presided over by a full bench of five or seven judges, will be held in March 2020 at the earliest, a court spokesman said.

Pell, the most senior Catholic official worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences, will remain in prison while his lawyers prepare for the High Court appeal.

Pell was convicted by a jury in the County Court of Victoria last December of abusing two 13-year-old boys at St Patrick's Cathedral in the late 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne. Under the six-year sentence he received in March, he will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81.

A first appeal was heard by the state's Court of Appeal, where judges upheld his conviction in a 2-1 majority in August.

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Pell's lawyers took the case to the High Court on the basis the Court of Appeal was wrong to have found that the jury's verdict was not unreasonable. Lawyers also argued the majority judges had erred in shifting the burden of proof to the defence to show that it would have been impossible for Pell to haRead More – Source