Top Vatican Cleric Found Guilty Of Sexually Abusing 2 Boys 22 Years Ago

Top Vatican Cleric Found Guilty Of Sexually Abusing 2 Boys 22 Years Ago

SYDNEY: Cardinal George Pell, one of the most senior figures in the Catholic Church, sexually assaulted two 13-year-old choirboys at a cathedral in the Australian city of Melbourne 22 years ago, according to a verdict by an Australian jury in December that has been suppressed by a gag order until now.

The boys were assaulted in two incidents in December 1996 and February 1997 after Pell had conducted Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the city's grandest, according to prosecutors.

In the first incident, the Age newspaper reported, Pell caught the two boys drinking the sacramental wine in a change room. He told the boys they were in trouble, exposed himself, pushed one of the boys close to his penis and then placed his penis in the other boy's mouth, the court was told.

Pell then masturbated while he groped the second boy's genitals, the court was told.

In the second incident, in 1997, one of the victims testified that Pell had pushed him against a wall in a hallway of the cathedral and squeezed his genitals. He reported the incident to police in 2015. The other boy died several years ago, the Age reported.

Pell's lawyers have said they will appeal the guilty verdict.

A jury convicted Pell on December 11 of five charges, including sexual penetration of a child under 16, but media outlets were ordered not to publish the verdict until now. Pell will be forced to return to court on Wednesday when the judge, Peter Kidd, will hear evidence about his sentence. His bail will be revoked on Wednesday, the judge said Tuesday morning, according to the Age.

Pell was from an influential position overseeing the Vatican's finances following the accusations.