Catholic Faces Sexual Assault Trial

Pell arriving in court last year

Pell arriving in court last year

The legal team representing Cardinal George Pell is understood to have applied for separate trials after Australia's most senior Catholic was committed to stand trial on multiple charges of sexual assault.

During the hearings, Mr Richter called for all charges to be dismissed, saying that a trial at a higher court in front of a jury would be a waste of public money. The cardinal has repeatedly rejected all accusations of child sexual abuse, calling them "absolute lies" and "a part of the campaign to blacken his name".

Cardinal Pell had his bail extended and is due to appear in the County Court on Wednesday, when a judge will set a date for his trial.

"The Holy See has taken note of the decision issued by judicial authorities in Australia regarding His Eminence Cardinal George Pell", Burke said, according to the AP. The charge of "historical sexual offense" indicates that the alleged crimes happened decades ago. They involved alleged offending at a Ballarat cinema during a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and allegations of other offending throughout Ballarat over the following year.

Although Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed numerous charges against Pell, who was appointed archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and later oversaw the Vatican's finances under Pope Francis, she said that the prosecution's case was strong enough to warrant a jury trial on the remaining charges.

"These are very hard matters for everyone involved and no one is going to be popping champagne corks over this", Louise Milligan, an investigative journalist and witness in the case whose reporting uncovered some of Pell's accusers, said in a telephone interview.

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Wearing a cleric's collar, Pell earlier arrived by auto in front of the downtown court where police officers were waiting to maintain order.

Anne Barrett Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts-based online abuse resource, described the magistrate's decision to make Pell stand trial as "a turning point in the global abuse crisis in the Catholic Church". Less than a decade later, Pell was appointed as archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and then made a cardinal in 2003.

"It's a historical day for the survivors of Ballarat", said Phil Nagle, an advocate for abuse victims, referring to this's hometown, where several priests had been accused of misconduct.

After that the Australian police arrived in the Vatican itself.

Last June, Pell was charged and was placed on leave by Pope Francis to handle the charges in his native country. The complainant had a "cavalier attitude" towards the court, Wallington found, and sometimes cited a lack of recall to avoid answering questions.

The Sydney Archdiocese had no immediate comment on Tuesday.

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