After more than a month of previous hearings, this Melbourne magistrate has decided to open a case against Cardinal George Pell for possible cases of abuse. Yet, the Australian law does not allow others to know the specific accusations.
The magistrate has ruled out half of the accusations, which were the most serious ones. These include touching a minor in the 70s and having assaulted a choir boy from the Melbourne Cathedral in the 90s. However, at least ten others have been kept.
After hearing the decision, the cardinal once again formally declared himself 'not guilty.'
In this statement, George Pell recalls that he 'has at all times fully cooperated with Victoria Police and always and steadfastly maintained his innocence. He has voluntarily returned to Australia to meet these accusations.'
The cardinal was archbishop of Melbourne, then Sydney, and later the Secretary of Economy at the Vatican. He was one of the pope's nine cardinal advisers, but Pope Francis has given him a leave of absence until the ruling process is finished.
When he was presented with the charges in June 2017, the cardinal appeared before the press to explain that he would return to Australia to prepare his defense.
CARD. GEORGE PELL
June 29, 2017
'These matters have been under investigation and now for two years. There have been leaks to the media. There has been relentless character assassination. I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.'
In 2016, the cardinal responded to the questions by a high-level commission of inquiry, where Pell confessed to having given more credibility to priests than to those who claimed to have been abused.