Cardinal George Pell: Hearing decision to be handed down today

Cardinal Pell trial decision imminent

Cardinal George Pell: Hearing decision to be handed down today

Following a month-long pre-trial hearing, magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled that some of the historical allegations against the 76-year-old should be tested in court.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington discharged numerous allegations made during a four-week pre-trial committal hearing in March, saying there was insufficient evidence, but concluded he should face court over two counts of an alleged offences at a swimming pool in Ballarat, where Pell worked as a priest in the 1970s.

Pell, who took leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to fight the charges, was in court to hear the decision.

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Cardinal Pell returned to Australia a year ago to face the allegations, having been granted a leave of absence by the Pope from his role as Vatican treasurer.

Richter said the evidence showed the worst of the allegations, including an alleged offence at a movie theater, could not have occurred and he described the other charges as "reasonably insignificant".

The Cardinal has vehemently denied all allegations since the day he was charged in June past year.

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The first one and a half weeks of the hearing were closed to the public as the complainants against Pell gave evidence, which is routine for committal hearings involving sexual offences. Pell said he intends to continue his work as a prefect of the church's economy ministry once the case is resolved. Pell was excused from attending.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court. After the announcement of the charges was made in June 2017, he said the idea of sexual abuse was "abhorrent" to him. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

Pell appeared before it three times, once in person and twice via video-link from Rome over the Church's handling of complaints against paedophile priests. His lawyers argued in court that Pell was targeted for "special treatment" by detectives from a police task force that investigated historical sex abuse. He has denied those accusations.

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During the hearing, the defence repeatedly attacked the police investigation into Pell, which began in March 2013 before any crime had been reported.

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