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MELBOURNE, Australia, May 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal George Pell’s appeal to the Victorian Supreme Court next Wednesday will be available for viewing worldwide from Australia via a livestream broadcast.
Cardinal Pell was convicted earlier this year on charges that he sexually abused two boys in the 1990s while he served as Archbishop of Melbourne. Presiding over the appeal will be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria Anne Ferguson, President of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg.
The hearing is scheduled to be live-streamed from the court’s website throughout Wednesday, June 5 and into Thursday, June 6. During the hearing, a camera will be focused solely on the three justices of the Court of Appeal. Neither Pell nor the lawyers will be shown on camera.
Pell, who turns 78 in June, has served three months of his prison term and would not be eligible for parole until 2022.
The cardinal is expected to appear before the Court of Appeal, to whom the lawyers will appeal his conviction. Rather than being held in the Court of Appeal building, where seating is limited, the hearing will take place in one of the larger courtrooms in the Supreme Court building.
Barrister Bret Walker, who is leading Pell’s appeal, is expected to argue against the jury conviction. Pell’s lawyers have not yet filed an appeal of the sentence.
The judges will hear arguments that the verdict was unreasonable and that evidence presented by prosecutors was faulty. Pell’s lawyers are expected to say that the fact that he was not arraigned (asked to plead guilty or not guilty) before the jury was irregular. Instead, jurors were shown a video of Pell’s plea that was recorded at the original trial four months earlier.
In addition, Pell’s lawyers will argue that Judge Peter Kidd, who sentenced Pell, wrongly prevented Pell’s lawyers from introducing a graphic video to the jury during their closing arguments. Purportedly, the video shows how Pell, when vested in liturgical vestments, could not have easily abused the boys in question. Pell did not, however, take the stand to answer questions on that point.
Pell’s case was retried with a new jury after the original jury was dismissed when it failed to reach a unanimous verdict. In the new trial, the jury accepted prosecutors’ arguments that Pell had sexually assaulted two boys in a room in the cathedral in December 1996, and then again sexually assaulted one of the boys in a cathedral hallway the following year. Evidence was provided by one of the former rboys, now a man in his 30s. However, another alleged victim died in 2014 due to a heroin overdose.
Pell’s convictions would be annulled if the appeals court rules in his favor, thus allowing his release from prison. However, the judges may also call for a retrial.
Should Pell succeed in his appeal, it is likely that he may face additional days in court for a new trial on the charges. There are other civil suits underway against the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Two other men allege that Pell touched them inappropriately when they were boys.
Pell was one of the closest advisers to Pope Francis. If his conviction is upheld, he will face removal from the College of Cardinals and suppression of his priestly faculties, thus becoming one of the highest-ranking churchmen to face such a sanction.
Critics of Pell’s trial have suggested that some of the evidence was actually taken from an article in Rolling Stone magazine, which described in 2011 allegations of sexual abuse leveled at a priest in the United States.
LifeSiteNews calls on readers to unite in prayer for Cardinal Pell’s appeal.