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Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has been committed to stand trial over historical sexual abuse charges in Australia.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled earlier today that there is enough evidence for a trial to proceed on about half of the original charges Pell was facing from a number of complainants.
Australia’s most senior Catholic will face charges stemming from allegations of “sexual offending at a swimming pool in the 1970s in Ballarat … and at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1990s, while he was Archbishop of Melbourne”, Fairfax Media says.
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When asked to enter a plea, Pell said: “Not guilty”.
Among the charges that were dismissed were allegations that Pell had committed sexual offences at a chapel and a cinema in Ballarat, a nearby city, in the 1970s while he was a priest in the area.
The 76-year-old’s lawyer, Robert Richter QC, said the most “vile” of the charges against Pell had been dropped.
Pell was released on bail, with conditions set that he will not be allowed to leave Australia. Pell has already forfeited his passport.
The ABC reports that the Cardinal faces “a directions hearing in the County Court tomorrow morning, when it is expected a date will be set for a trial before a jury”.
Pell was originally charged with historical sexual abuse in June 2017, and was given leave by Pope Francis to step aside from his position at the Vatican to return to Australia to contest the charges.
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