Cardinal George Pell is going to trial. According to media reports, he will face multiple charges from multiple complainants. Some of the more serious charges have been dropped, but those were charges which were based on allegations from one complainant who died recently, and another complainant who is medically unfit to testify. Here is the news as it comes from the courtcase, followed by a report from CNN. The Guardian reports are as it happens and, at this time, the most up-to-date:
Pell to stand trial after significant day in court
Pell leaves court
There’s still a crowd outside the Melbourne magistrates court, comprising media, police, and protesters.
They are all still waiting for Pell to emerge from the court. We can expect more chaotic scenes when he does.
A woman is now screaming outside of the court “NO MORE SILENCE”. #Pell
While we take a breath, it’s worth re-reading this summary of the four-week committal hearing. Much of the evidence was heard in closed court, preventing media access, but the parts that were open were illuminating. Melissa Davey writes:
Pell sat each day in courtroom 22 on level five of Melbourne magistrates court in the same seat, head bowed, sometimes taking notes, always dressed in the same outfit; black pants, black shirt and a beige jacket. His friend and director of communications for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Katrina Lee, sat in the court with him most days, one row behind him, one seat to his left. Occasionally, Pell looked up at the witnesses. Apart from being softly asked the occasional question by Richter – who is a progressive atheist – or accepting well wishes from supporters before court began each day, Pell was largely silent.
Pell very clearly stated he will plead “not guilty” to those charges he will stand trial on. Half of the charges have been thrown out including the most serious charges (the nature of which I can not report for legal reasons).
The committal hearing is now closed and court attendees broke into applause once Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed the court. He has been committed on multiple charges. More than half were thrown out.
The trial will first be heard on 2 May at 9am for a first directions hearing, which is purely to go over administrative matters. His plea has been entered as not guilty. The trial will go for many months.
Pell’s bail is being set and the court has heard he has agreed he will not leave the country. But Richter told Wallington “there may be an overseas visitor who comes and arrives who the cardinal may see”.
Robert Richter, QC, has told the court he wants it known that the most serious charges against Pell have been thrown out.
He has also indicated he may push for separate trials against Pell, given the nature of the remaining charges.
Magistrate concludes committal judgment
Pell again says he is ‘not guilty’
Pell will stand trial on multiple alleged offences