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Jury finds Cardinal George Pell guilty on five counts of 'historical child sexual offenses'

The former close adviser to the Pope is expected to be sentenced early next year

William West/AFP/Getty Images

An Australian jury has unanimously found Cardinal George Pell guilty on five charges of "historical child sexual offenses" dating back decades, America Magazine reported.

A 12-member jury delivered the verdict Tuesday in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne. A gag order issued in June by presiding Judge Peter Kidd has prohibited the Australian media from reporting on the trial and verdict, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The Australian Cardinal, who was appointed as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, is the most senior official to be convicted of sexual offenses of this nature. Some media outlets have reported him as the third ranking Vatican official, but according to America Magazine, that information is incorrect.

Pell, 77, was a member of Pope Francis' C9 Council of Cardinals, an advisory body on church governance and reform. He was removed in October, along with Cardinals Javier Errazuriz and Laurent Monsengwo. The cardinal had been on leave from his duties since 2017 while he defended himself. He has denied the charges.

A Vatican spokesperson declined CNA's request for comment citing the judge's gag order.

The Daily Beast first published the jury's verdict on its website Tuesday.

What were the charges?

The jury found Pell guilty of sexually abusing two altar servers during the late 1990s, according to reports.

He was serving as Archbishop of Melbourne at the time of the incidences. No further details are known due to the gag order.

Additional charges of sexual abuse against a minor are expected to be heard in a separate trial next year. The allegations are related to his time as a priest during the 1970s.

The gag order is expected to remain in effect until the second trial is completed.

When will he be sentenced?

The judge said the cardinal would be sentenced in early February, American magazine reported.

Pell is currently freed on bail while he awaits sentencing.

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