In October 2016, the Melbourne-based defence barrister Robert Richter packed a pair of sunglasses and his panama hat and boarded a plane to Rome. Autumn is especially magical in the Eternal City: the colours are out and the crowds are down. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to stroll through St. Peter’s Square without being trampled. But sightseeing wasn’t on Richter’s to-do list. Rather, he was there to see the man at the centre of the most important case of his career, Cardinal George Pell.
Now 76, Pell has been an influential figure in the Catholic Church for more than 30 years. After serving as Archbishop of Melbourne, and then of Sydney, where he earned a reputation for being bluntly effective, he was called to Rome in 2014 and made the Vatican’s money czar, charged with untangling its finances, elements of which date from the 17th century. The appointment, which made Pell the third most powerful man in the Catholic Church and a trusted adviser to Pope Francis, seemed to mark just the latest station in his remarkable rise.
All that came to an end, however, in early 2016, when reports surfaced, first in newspapers and then on the ABC, that a Victorian police taskforce was investigating him for historical sex offences. Pell rejected the claims, which his spokesman described as “calumnies”. At the same time, he retained Richter. And when, in October 2016, three Victorian detectives travelled to Rome to interview the cardinal, Richter made sure he was by his side.
Over the next five days, the two men met regularly, mostly in the cardinal’s official residence, a modest apartment just minutes from the Vatican. “It was a strange experience,” says Richter, 71, who was raised Jewish but is an avowed atheist. “There was the church hierarchy, the daily routines, the nuns coming in to say ‘Would you like a coffee?’ ” Pell would say Mass every morning, often by himself, during which he would be uncontactable. The two men developed a rapport: “Pell has a wry sense of humour when you get to know him.” But, as Richter soon realised, the laying of charges was all but inevitable. “You’re not going to have a taskforce set up and millions of dollars spent and nothing comes out of it.”
Pell was charged in June last year with multiple historical sex offences, allegations he denies. He stepped down from his position at the Vatican and returned to Australia to prepare his defence, which has been characteristically bullish. He has said he will “vigorously defend the charges”, which amounted to little more than “character assassination”. At the same time, Richter, a dab hand at media management, set about getting ahead of the story. In October, he told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court he intends to call 50 witnesses at the committal hearing, which is scheduled for March. He said his evidence was “voluminous”, and would show that “what was alleged was impossible”.
“The cardinal has been set up to fall by people who know nothing about the actual charges,” Richter tells me, indignantly. “He’s innocent, and he needs help.” We’re sitting in Richter’s chambers in the Melbourne CBD, surrounded by boxes of files and piles of paperwork. He’s propped sideways at his desk, with his legs up resting on an ottoman. Though defendants are not required to enter a plea until they are committed to trial, Richter made clear in June that Pell would plead not guilty. “There may have been speculation about ‘Will he plead to something or do a deal,’ ” Richter says, levelling his gaze at me. “But I just wanted it known, straight off, that this is not one of those cases where he is going to lie down.”
If you happened have planned a terrorist attack or stolen tens of millions of dollars or imported a boatload of cocaine, or, indeed, if you have been falsely accused of doing these things, then chances are that you would at some stage wind up on Richter’s doorstep. Richter has defended some of Australia’s most despised figures, including Julian Knight, the Australian Army officer cadet who killed seven and injured 19 in a mass shooting in Melbourne in 1987 that became known as the Hoddle Street massacre. He’s also defended notorious Melbourne gangland figure Mick Gatto, and advocated for pro-abortionists and convicted paedophiles.
Richter is arguably Australia’s foremost criminal defence counsel, feted for his forensic intellect and courtroom advocacy, and for his ability to smuggle clients through the tiniest windows of plausible deniability. He once used the rarely cited defence of automatism to get a client off a murder charge. (Richter argued that the man was in a fugue state as a result of a blow to the head when he shot his neighbour, and thus not responsible for his actions.) In 2005, he successfully pleaded self-defence for his client, Mick Gatto, who shot hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin in a Melbourne restaurant. The crime was highly publicised, a fact Richter turned to his advantage. “You read the papers,” he told the jury. “You think he probably did it. If so, you must acquit, because probably is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Gatto subsequently had Richter’s name tattooed on his chest.
Richter has worked for billionaires, bikies and fraudsters, but Pell is, by any measure, his biggest case by far. “George Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic ever to be charged with sex offences,” says Peter Johnstone, from Catholics for Renewal, a Victorian group that advocates for a more open and accountable church. “His case goes beyond the issue of bishops protecting clerical abusers to the possibility of bishops, indeed a cardinal, actually perpetrating such abuse. That would be a further level of scandal, indeed cataclysmic for the Catholic Church worldwide.”
The case has attracted enormous attention – Pell’s first court appearance drew dozens of protesters, supporters and journalists, many from overseas: such was the crush that police are considering bringing the Cardinal into court via a side entrance in the future. It has also provided a rich source of gossip. One lawyer I speak to suggests that Richter was a poor choice for the defence: he is said to be too old and too theatrical. (A former Supreme Court judge tells me Richter has a tendency to “talk a lot of bullshit”.) He might even be too … male. Perhaps a woman would have been a more sympathetic option? One journalist describes the appointment of a young, female Crown prosecutor, Fran Dalziel, who will head up the case against Pell, as a deliberate ploy. (Dalziel has previously prosecuted sex crimes, and in September 2017 successfully acted against three men who staged a mock beheading in the Victorian regional town of Bendigo in protest at plans to build a mosque there.)
Richter is being briefed by Paul Galbally, of Melbourne firm Galbally & O’Bryan, which has also raised eyebrows. In 2002, Galbally & O’Bryan acted for Melbourne man Phil Scott, who had accused Pell of having molested him at a church youth camp in the early 1960s. (Pell was ultimately cleared by an internal church inquiry.) “Back then, they thought Pell was guilty,” one journalist tells me. “Now they think he’s innocent.” (Richter says the partner who acted for Scott is not involved in Pell’s defence to avoid any conflict of interest. The partner still works for the firm.) There has also been speculation about Pell himself, including about his whereabouts – a Carmelite convent in Kew? An apartment in Sydney? – and the state of his finances; Richter is rumoured to charge between $10,000 to $15,000 a day, which the Vatican has declined to cover; instead, a small group of conservative Catholic businessmen is apparently helping foot the bill.
Pell and Richter certainly make an odd couple. Richter is a Jew, Pell is a Catholic: Richter is loudly leftwing and socially progressive. Pell is a mirthless arch-conservative who once claimed that homosexuality was more dangerous than smoking. An early campaigner for reproductive rights and drug law reform, Richter has built a career around confronting power and challenging authority. Pell is authority incarnate, a high priest in one of the most powerful institutions in the world; one, moreover, that has been implicated in the most grievous of all abuses – the sexual assault of children.
Richter says he gets “tons” of emails about the case. “Some say, ‘We’re praying for the cardinal.’ Some say, ‘How can you act for him?’ You also get abusive ones: people call me a scumbag.” The emails speak not so much to Pell’s case in particular but to the level of emotion surrounding the broader issue of clerical sex abuse. “That’s part of the problem,” Richter tells me. “The whole anger around the abuse in the Catholic Church has been focussed on [Pell].” It makes it that much harder to reach the truth, he says. “People who come out of the woodwork after 40 years or whatnot are usually damaged,” he says. “The question is, ‘Who damaged them?’
Richter’s chambers are in Lonsdale Street, in the centre of Melbourne, just 30 seconds’ walk to the Magistrates’ Court. It’s a big space, casually accoutred with antiques: a Japanese rice container, a Persian rug, a Burmese ceremonial sword. Against one wall is a velvet couch in a soothing shade of beige, and in the opposite corner a 250-year-old high-backed leather chair that used to belong to Dr Samuel Johnson, creator of the first comprehensive English dictionary. “When I had it restored, they took the leather off and found all these extinct species of insect inside,” Richter says.
An important part of being a “celebrity barrister”, as Richter is often described, is cultivating a suitably memorable persona. With his trademark owl glasses and panama hat, Richter’s look is a cross between Sigmund Freud and Tom Wolfe. He is energetic, even sprightly, despite smoking a lung-annihilating pack a day, never eats breakfast (“My tummy is too sensitive in the morning”), and survives almost exclusively on regular infusions of heavily sugared black coffee. His skin is mottled and occasionally flaky, and his hair and beard, sizzling ginger in his student days, is now the colour of Beijing smog. In a profession known for its pomposity, Richter is oddly approachable and disorientatingly frank. He’s a sharer. A discussion about his smoking leads to an account of the time he passed out while receiving a digital rectal examination. “Vasovagal reflex it’s called; good thing I was lying down.” He also holds an avid distaste for daylight saving, which he regards as “a trick, a deception, you come back to work and instead of 8am it’s 9am. It’s horrible.”
His regard for the law borders on evangelical. “It’s like that speech of Thomas More’s in A Man for All Seasons,” he tells me at one point, fist raised, voice quavering. ” ‘England is a forest of laws. And they are there to defend us, and without those trees in the forest, those laws, what would you do when the devil comes for you?’ ” If not for the law, he might have had a fine career on the stage.
Richter has an affinity with outsiders, mainly because he was one. He was born in 1946, in the former Soviet state of the Kirghiz Republic where his parents, Berek, who was a Polish Jew, and Sofia, who was Ukrainian, met after being displaced during World War II. When Robert was six weeks old, the family used forged papers to make their way to Germany, where they stayed in a transitional refugee camp. There they spent three years before moving to Israel, which was about the only place that would have them. “I had a very happy childhood in Israel, but it was hard on my parents. Dad was a trained ladies’ tailor in Poland, but in Israel he worked as a builder’s labourer.” When Richter was 13, the family moved again, to Melbourne, where his uncle had established a small garment business.
Australia turned out to be, in Richter’s words, “an absolute misery”. He had left his friends behind, couldn’t understand the language and was teased for being a redhead. Worse still, he couldn’t have cared less about cricket. Eventually he taught himself English by watching TV and movies, To Kill a Mockingbird among them, and reading dictionaries. After high school, where he topped the state in modern history, he decided to go to Melbourne University to study law which was, as he saw it, the best way of addressing the kind of discrimination he’d been subjected to as an immigrant.
University was something of a culture shock for Richter, who was the first in his family to go beyond high school. He attended on a Commonwealth Scholarship, one of many being offered by the Menzies government. He didn’t have much money, and resented the “silver spooners” – the kids who’d come from the right schools and the right families: “I didn’t mix with those.” He mainly hung around with the arts people, sitting around in the library smoking cigarettes and “chatting up beautiful women”. He also befriended Remy van de Wiel, who is now a QC and shares Richter’s Lonsdale Street chambers. “Even then, Robert was interested in making sure everyone got a fair shake,” van de Wiel tells me.
After graduating with honours in 1969, Richter began reading with the barrister and human rights advocate Ron Castan. As a junior lawyer, Richter worked mainly on civil litigation – commercial disputes, car accidents, breaches of contract. Like many of his impecunious contemporaries, he occasionally sourced clothes from secondhand stores, among the best known of which was The Free Store. Established in Fitzroy Street, Collingwood, by a local anarchist group, The Free Store specialised in cash-free exchanges of anything and everything, from shirts and books to furniture and records. “There were lots of homeless people and housing commission flats in the area,” says van de Wiel, who lived nearby. “The idea was that you put whatever you didn’t need in there and took what you did need.” Before long, van de Wiel had the idea of providing free legal advice, which he dispensed two nights a week from a small room in the rear of the store. In time, more lawyers volunteered, including Richter, thus giving rise to the Fitzroy Legal Service, the first free, non-Aboriginal legal centre in Australia. “It was a formative time,” Richter says now. “It showed us what was possible.”
In 1973, Richter was approached by a Victorian doctor named Bert Wainer, who had for years been campaigning to have abortion decriminalised in that state. Wainer’s work had uncovered links between underground abortionists and corrupt police; it also highlighted more widespread abuses of power, including police brutality, wrongful convictions and fabricated confessions, or “verbals”. “These police were really tough and violent and used to getting their way,” says Jo Wainer, Bert’s widow. “They were having people wrongfully jailed; they were hanging people by their ankles from the sixth floor of Russell Street police HQ.” Together with a small group of like-minded lawyers, Richter helped Bert gather evidence of these abuses, which they took to the Victorian government in the hope of initiating an inquiry. It was dangerous work: the brakes on the Wainers’ car were tampered with; a house Bert was staying in was firebombed. Richter was likewise harassed. He heard from a contact that crooked cops intended to plant drugs in his home, and at one stage his house was broken into and his son’s bedroom vandalised. “Despite everything that happened, Robert kept going,” says Jo. “He is one of the bravest people I ever met.”
Finally, in 1974, Victorian premier Rupert Hamer announced that there would be an inquiry into police corruption, headed by a prominent Melbourne QC, Barry Beach. The Beach Inquiry resulted in findings against 55 policeman. Of these, 33 were charged; all were acquitted. “When it came to the trials, either witnesses didn’t turn up, or they developed a case of the ‘I-can’t-remembers’,” Richter says. “But it did ultimately result in the compulsory taping of police interviews, which effectively killed the verbal in Victoria.” The cops resisted it at first, he says. “But then, after a while, they realised it was a good thing, because it also protected them from allegations of the verbal.”
Richter’s involvement in the abortion issue came full circle, in 1987, when he defended Ian McGoldrick, the last doctor in Victoria accused of performing illegal terminations. McGoldrick was much like Richter: self-made, working class – a non-starter on the dinner party circuit. Though he had been accused of malpractice, McGoldrick was also regarded by many women as a champion of their right to choose. Richter had the charges against him dismissed at committal.
Working with Wainer gave Richter a taste for criminal law, and he has worked in the field ever since. “The stakes are higher in criminal,” he says. In civil, defendants risk losing property or money. “In criminal, you’re trying to make sure that people are not wrongly convicted and locked up.” Richter often becomes heavily invested in the fate of his clients. “Robert treats his cases like a personal matter,” says Mick Gatto. “He takes your interest to heart. During my trial, he sometimes went for nights without sleep.”
Friend and fellow QC Neil Clelland recalls working with Richter on cases “where it would get to 11pm and I’d say, ‘That’s enough for me, I’m going to bed,’ and Robert would go to his hotel room and keep working, then come to court the next day and be a dynamo.”
He is known for conducting complicated trials with scores of witnesses and wheelbarrow loads of documents, and for employing what high-profile Melbourne commercial lawyer Leon Zwier, who has worked with Richter for 25 years, describes as a “bug in a bottle” approach, whereby he examines a problem “from the top down, from underneath, and from the sides”.
But his real skill is in the courtroom and in cross-examination. Most barristers avoid asking open-ended questions when cross-examining a witness to avoid eliciting unforeseen answers. “Robert is different,” Zwier says. “What he does is sort through every possible answer to his questions, and then prepare scenarios to each of those responses. He is basically prepared for the next question, no matter what the previous answer might have been.”
The strategy requires time, intellectual stamina, and, once a case reaches court, a preparedness to subject witnesses to withering interrogation. For victims, particularly of sexual assault, this can be a harrowing experience. “It was horrendous,” says Carol Stingel, who was cross-examined by Richter for four days straight as part of her civil rape case against then Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark.
Stingel alleged that she had been pack raped by Clark and six other men in 1971, when she was 16. “I had been confronting [the rapes] for 30-plus years,” Stingel tells me. “You spend the whole time looking in the mirror saying, ‘You’re not to blame, it’s not your fault.’ Then you take the final step to take it to court, and – bam! – they put it all back on you.”
Richter subjected Stingel to something close to a public vivisection, poking, stripping back, rephrasing the same questions, over and over, trying to trip her up. “You start to feel like you’re at fault,” she says. “I was a mess after that. I should have gone to hospital.” (In 2007, a civil-court jury found that Clark had raped Stingel twice and ordered him to pay damages of $20,000. Stingel has yet to receive the money.) When Stingel’s cousin, Joanne McGuinness, made a similar rape allegation against Clark, Richter described her as a “woman with a rich fantasy life”.
A lot has changed since Clark’s case, beginning with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission, which ran from 2012 to 2017, produced 85 recommendations, but one of its most important outcomes was a recognition of the need for increased sensitivity around the treatment of victims, particularly in court. Relentless attacks by lawyers on an alleged victim’s integrity and credibility may no longer play so well with judges or juries.
In any case, Richter’s reputation precedes him. “The effect is to instil fear,” says Ballarat-based lawyer Ingrid Irwin, who represents several men who were abused as boys by Catholic priests. “The best psychological harm [Pell’s legal team] can do to the victims is to get someone like Richter, who has that profile, and who is known to gut and fillet witnesses. Also, it’s important to get someone who is almost like Pell himself. People thought Pell was God, and they think the same thing about Richter. He’s that type of guy.”
Richter lives with his wife, Anne, in a brick and shingle home on the beach front in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Middle Park. Anne, who Richter met at university, is a widely published art historian with a special interest in south-east Asian and Indonesian jewellery. The couple have two children, Louis, who is 42 and a criminal defence barrister, and Jessica, 35, who works as a research lawyer at RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice. “I wanted them to do something nice, like architecture,” Richter says, “but they ignored me.”
His interests are varied: he plays poker, and occasionally visits casinos (his favourite game is blackjack). He also enjoys opera, history books and classical music, Bach in particular. “He plays it all the time,” says van de Wiel, whose office is adjacent to Richter’s. “I can hear it through the wall, and it gives me the shits, because I hate classical music.” Exercise doesn’t feature prominently in his life: “Every now and again Anne will say, ‘We’d better go for a walk.’ So we’ll for a walk along the beach.”
While Richter’s job is by its very nature unhealthy – months of desk-bound preparation culminating in weeks of teeth-grinding stress in court – it’s tempting, also, to imagine there’s a certain psychic toll associated with defending the apparently indefensible. As the vice-president of the Victorian Council of Civil Liberties, in 1993, he spoke out on behalf of convicted paedophiles, opposing the introduction of a law that would have them banned from loitering near schools and parks. He has criticised efforts to confiscate assets of people associated with drug offences, and suggested there should be a statute of limitations for sex offences that stops people being charged 30 years after the event. “Thirty years after the event, they are not the same person,” he told The Melbourne Magazine in 2005. This might come as cold comfort to the victims of historical clerical sex abuse.
Likewise, his tooth-and-nail advocacy for convicted criminals has won him few fans. In 2008, he acted for Thomas Towle, a 36-year-old man who ran over and killed six teenagers in country Victoria while driving at night. Towle, who, it later emerged, had a long list of prior driving convictions, had been driving with his four-year-old son on his lap; he then left the scene of the crash. In her victim impact statement, the mother of one of the teenagers talked of seeing her daughter “in my mind all the time. I go places and see her there.” Another victim’s mother said she felt “hopeless, helpless, useless, worthless”.
Towle was convicted, but Richter managed to have his sentence downgraded from a maximum of 20 years’ jail to 10. “It seems the defence was successful in its clever use of words and persuasive techniques,” chaplain Colin Cole, a spokesman for the families, later told journalists.
This level of suffering is impossible to comes to terms with. Rather wisely, Richter doesn’t try. “I put it out of my mind. You say to yourself, ‘I’m a professional.’ People are hurt, no matter what happens. If someone is wrongly convicted, or given a disproportionately heavy sentence, all you have done is multiply the number of victims.”
Should the Pell matter go to trial, it’s a good bet that Cardinal Pell will win. Of all reported sex abuse cases, just 6 per cent result in conviction, according to Judy Courtin, a lawyer and doctoral researcher at Monash University’s law school. The timing is certainly auspicious: the committal hearing is scheduled to end around Easter Monday, the day after Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. And yet the outcome is, in one sense at least, largely academic: conviction or no conviction, Pell’s career is almost certainly over.
“He’s never coming back to Rome,” says Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for Catholic newspaper La Croix. “He’s yesterday’s man. It’s finished for him.” Of course, Richter would never admit this. For now, he’s concentrating on strategy: word is that he’s trying to have each of the charges against Pell dealt with separately, rather than as a group, to avoid the damaging effect cumulative allegations might have on a judge or jury. (Richter declined to comment on this.)
Towards the end of our meeting, Richter reaches the end of his cigarettes. Before long, he begins fishing around in his ashtray for butts. And so we head out, onto the streets below his chambers, to buy another pack. It’s so hot my head spins, but Richter seems oblivious, shaded by his ultra-fine, hand-woven panama. He walks me to the corner, to the steps of the Magistrates’ Court, where a TV crew is filming an interview with a young solicitor and his client.
I thank Richter for his time, and start walking back to my hotel. On the way, I pass St Francis’ Church, a squat mustard-coloured structure in the centre of the city, crowded on all sides by skyscrapers and office blocks. St Francis’ is Victoria’s oldest Catholic church. It is not a fancy building, or particularly big, and not at all pretty. But it nonetheless seems somehow impregnable, disdainful even, and determined to survive.
Aussie cardinal Pell blames publicity for sex abuse claims
The Standard HongKong
14 Feb 2018 7:07 pm
Lawyers for the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges have told an Australian court that the allegations stemmed from publicity surrounding a national inquiry into child abuse three years ago.
Cardinal George Pell was charged last year with offenses involving multiple complainants in his native Australia. The exact details and nature of the charges have not been disclosed to the public, though police have described them as “historical” sexual assaults, meaning they are alleged to have occurred decades ago.
Lawyers for Pope Frances’ former finance minister failed in his application in Melbourne Magistrates Court today to gain access to his alleged victims’ medical records.
A government inquiry began investigating in 2012 how institutions responded to sexual abuse of children in Australia over 90 years. -AP
Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers zero in on credibility of dead complainant
The Weekend Australian
14 February 2018
Cardinal George Pell’s defence lawyers will test the credibility of an “unreliable” dead complainant who sparked a “domino effect” of allegations with his public claim of sexual assault, a court has heard.
Barrister Ruth Shann said the cardinal’s legal team were preparing for a committal in two and a half weeks which includes a charge relating to the deceased complainant.
Cardinal Pell is charged with multiple historical sex offences relating to multiple complainants.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard the office of the director of prosecutions had not yet decided whether to withdraw the man’s complaint from the charges against Cardinal Pell, however it was likely the charge would be withdrawn.
Ms Shann said material had been subpoenaed from the man’s lawyer and the complainant’s credibility and reliability remained central to the case.
She said it wasn’t possible to examine four other complainants without dealing with their knowledge of the man’s complaint.
“He’s the starting point for those people we would say,” she said.
Ms Shann said the man made his police complaint via the royal commission in 2015 about 40 years after the alleged acts.
She said the man’s statement said he reported the incident after reading accounts of others in the royal commission in newspapers.
“We would be saying that complainant lacks reliability and credibility,” she said.
“The domino effect which occurred with those other people starts from an unreliable and uncredible source.”
“That’s an unfortunate consequence of the 7.30 report which was seen by a number of these people prior to them making any complaint at all.”
Ms Shann said regardless of whether the case was in the magistrates court or before a jury the deceased man’s complaint had to be mentioned in order to understand other complaints.
“It’s one we have to deal with,” she said.
“From a juror’s perspective we have to be able to challenge (that) the first step was a flawed and unbelievable step, otherwise [there’s] prejudice that attaches to the jury.”
Prosecutor Fran Dalziel said it was a “classic collateral credit issue” and other complainants couldn’t be cross examined about the dead man’s process.
Cardinal Pell’s team also sought medical records of other complainants, but Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled against the granting of the subpoenas, finding the materials sought lacked the substantive probative value required.
She said a subpoena for a complainant’s medical records from Justice Health, which provides assessments for court appearances and parole hearings, still concerned her.
Ms Wallington questioned why a person’s medical records were covered by privilege but not if they were in custody.
Ms Shann said the argument was simple and related to control.
“Under the corrections act you don’t have any power over what happens to that information,” she said.
She said medical information of prisoners could be disclosed to other agencies including police, victims and the parole board.
“You don’t provide that information in a closed relationship,” Ms Shann said.
Ms Wallington reserved her decision on the granting of the subpoena until next Wednesday.
The court also heard the ABC and investigative journalist Louise Milligan had agreed to provide further documents to the defence but required another week.
Milligan authored Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell which was published by Melbourne University Press last year.
The book was pulled from shelves in Victoria a month later when the cardinal was charged in June.
Milligan has previously handed over research notes for the book and background material for TV reports about Cardinal Pell for the ABC but redacted the names of confidential sources.
Cardinal Pell has taken leave from his role as the Vatican’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy to fight the charges against him.
The cardinal is the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse.
A further hearing will be held next week.