Cardinal George Pell has submitted an application for leave to appeal his conviction to the Australian High Court, following the August 21 decision by the Court of Appeal in Victoria to uphold his conviction for child sexual abuse.
Sources close to the cardinal told CNA on August 26 that Pell would be exercising his final appeal and that, while the majority of “special leave to appeal” cases were not granted by the High Court, his case would likely be accepted given the controversy triggered by the split decision of the Appeal Court judgement.
In seeking to take his case to the High Court in Canberra, Australia’s supreme court, Pell is exercising his last legal avenue to overturn a conviction which has divided opinion in the country and internationally.
The cardinal was convicted on December 11, 2018, on five charges that he sexually abused two choristers after Sunday Mass while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997.
He was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible to apply for parole.
The judges were divided on Pell’s primary ground of appeal, that the decision of the jury was “unreasonable.”
At particular issue was the question of whether the jury which convicted Pell had properly weighed all of the evidence presented in his defense, or reached the determination of guilt despite the demonstration of clear “reasonable doubt” that he committed the crimes with which he was charged.
In an extensive dissent from the majority finding, Justice Mark Weinberg noted that the entirety of the evidence against Pell consisted of the testimony of a single accuser, whereas more than 20 witnesses were produced to testify against his narrative.
Full story at The Catholic Herald.