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AFP
August 23, 2019

Archbishop stands by disgraced Cardinal Pell

World

AFP
August 23, 2019

SYDNEY: A senior Australian Archbishop said on Thursday he still believed disgraced Cardinal George Pell was innocent despite a court rejecting his appeal against child sex abuse convictions.

Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli said while he accepted the testimony of the victim that convicted Pell, he believed his colleague was the victim of mistaken identity. "I believe in what he said to me on many occasions -- that he’s innocent" Comensoli told 3AW radio, stressing that he accepted the witness was indeed abused, but by someone else.

He did not offer any evidence to support the claim. Pell and his supporters look set to fight on after the former Vatican treasurer on Wednesday lost his appeal against five convictions for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.

University of Melbourne law professor Jeremy Gans said it was highly likely that Pell would now take his case to the country’s final court of appeal. "He’s got absolutely nothing to lose, and his odds are long. But if he wins, it’s big for him, so why on earth wouldn’t he do it?" Gans told AFP.

Pell, 78, who once helped elect Popes, is serving a six-year sentence for the offences, which came to light after one of the victims went to police when the other died of a drug overdose in 2014. Wednesday’s landmark decision at the Court of Appeal was a 2-1 verdict.

Two judges said they believed Pell’s surviving victim, while the dissenting judge said he found the victim’s account "contained discrepancies". Gans said the High Court would likely be more open to taking on the case because of the split decision, but it wasn’t guaranteed.

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