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Convicted Cardinal Pell Warned Child Victim 'You’re in Trouble,' Court Hears

Suppression order lifted as most senior Catholic clergyman found guilty of child abuse

 on 26th February 2019 @ 3.00pm
cardinal george pell was found guilty of child sex abuse charges on tuesday © press
Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of child sex abuse charges on Tuesday

Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to ever be convicted of child sex offenses, told one of his victims, "you're in trouble," before sexually attacking him, the court heard.

Gruesome details of the case have been revealed after a previously applied suppression order was lifted when the former Vatican treasurer was found guilty in an Australian court on Tuesday.

During Pell's trial, the County Court of Victoria heard that Pope Francis's former right-hand man "planted himself in the doorway and said something like 'what are you doing here' or 'you're in trouble'," before forcing himself on the young boy and his friend.

Pell, who was the Catholic Church's most powerful clergy in Australia before he fled to the Vatican, attacked both 13-year-old boys while they were on scholarships at the prestigious St Kevin's College. 

One of the victims has since died, but a second gave evidence to the court through video link, and Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC later quoted his statement during the hearing.

The victim testified that he was a choirboy at St Patrick's Cathedral at the time of the offenses, explaining that he was too shocked by the horrific events to report the incident to anyone when it first happened. 

"I didn't complain to anyone at that time," he wrote in the statement.

"It felt like an anomaly. I was in shock and didn't tell.

"It's something I've carried for the whole of my life... it took a courage much later in life for me to even think about coming forward."

george pell was the former vatican treasurer and one of the most powerful men in the catholic church © press
George Pell was the former Vatican treasurer and one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church

According to the Daily Mail, the victim, who is now in his 30s, gave evidence via video link to avoid being in the same room as Pell.  

He said he and his friend had "nicked off" after a Sunday solemn mass in December 1996 and were caught swigging sacramental wine in the priest's sacristy by Pell, newly installed as Archbishop of Melbourne.

They were confronted by Pell, who told them they were "in trouble," before exposing his penis from beneath his ornate ceremonial robes and molesting the two young boys.  

The court was closed for the survivor's evidence of the events that followed - his recollection of standing frozen, watching his friend "squirm" as his head was pulled toward Pell's genitals.

"Then he turned to me," he said.

The surviving victim, who cannot be identified, recalled Pell orally raping him and demanding he then remove his pants, which he did.

Pell fondled the boy's genitals while masturbating himself.

The teen put his pants back on and together the boys rejoined their choir.

Afraid of jeopardizing his schooling and not understanding what had happened or "if it was normal," the survivor didn't say a word for years.

Not even when, a month or so later, Pell shoved him against a wall in a cathedral corridor and fondled his genitals.

Pell, 77, is the most senior Catholic clergyman to be found guilty of child sex offenses anywhere in the world.

He was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and one count of rape by a Victorian jury last December, following three days of deliberations. 

george pell was swarmed as he left court on tuesday following his guilty verdict © press
George Pell was swarmed as he left court on Tuesday following his guilty verdict

The Pell verdict can finally be revealed after a second trial over allegations Pell indecently assaulted boys in regional Victoria in the 1970s was abandoned. 

That result meant a gag order preventing the verdict from being published in the Australian media was finally lifted after more than two months. 

After the verdict, Mr. Pell's victim released a statement which explained the massive toll the Cardinal's actions had taken on his life.

"Like many survivors, I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression, and struggle. Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life," he wrote. 

"At some point, we realise we trusted someone we should have feared, and we fear those genuine relationships that we should trust."

Pell has repeatedly and vehemently denied the accusations against him and Pope Francis had granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself. 

He has lodged an appeal against his conviction.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Pell again maintained his innocence and said he would be appealing the decision. 

"An appeal has been lodged against his conviction, and he will await the outcome of the appeal process," the statement read. 

"Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those [that are] the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued. 

"He will not be commenting in the meantime."

One of the victims, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of having struggled to understand what he'd experienced.

The boy said he was sexually assaulted again by Pell a month or so after he was raped, recalling that he was pushed against a cathedral wall by the now-Cardinal. 

"He shoved me against the wall violently and squeezed my genitals," the court was told.  

Pell's other victim died in 2014 in accidental circumstances.

The Cardinal is yet to be sentenced but is expected to be jailed for his crimes, with Chief Judge Peter Kidd telling Pell's legal counsel he would be remanded into custody on Wednesday. 

tags: Pope | Child Abuse
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