Cardinal George Pell was released from jail on Tuesday having had his child sex convictions overturned by Australia’s High Court.
The court’s decision to quash the 2018 conviction against Pell was unanimous, following arguments made by his lawyers that previous decisions had not taken in to proper account evidence that cast doubt about his guilt.
In 2018 the 78-year old cardinal, who was the third most powerful Catholic in the world, was sentenced to six-years in jail for molesting two alter boys in Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s. One of the alleged victims died in 2014, so the evidence against Pell rested on the testimony of just one other alleged victim.
The Jury conviction in that case was upheld by the Victorial Court of Appeal in a two to one decision.
In a statement following the High Court’s acquittal on Tuesday, Pell said: “I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.”
According to the ABC, Shine Lawyers, representing the father of the deceased accuser, said in a statement: “He is struggling to comprehend the decision by the High Court of Australia. He says he no longer has faith in our country’s criminal justice system.”