Top Catholic Church Leader Convicted of Sex Abuse
The conviction of a Cardinal who had directly served the Vatican has added to the woes of the Catholic church, which has in recent years been struggling with allegations of sexual abuse by some of its clergymen.
Cardinal George Pell was convicted in an Australian court of molesting two choirboys and faces up to 50 years in prison. In addition to the criminal case, the father of one victim plans to take civil action against the church. The allegations of sexual abuse are rampant within Catholic churches worldwide, and unfortunately many times these cases are not caught until the children grow up and are able to tell their stories.
Cardinal Had Been a Top Adviser to the Pope
Pell, the most senior cleric in the Catholic church to have ever been charged with child sexual abuse, had served as the top financial adviser to Pope Francis and as the Vatican’s economy minister. He was convicted after a trial that took place in the Australian state of Victoria. He had also faced charges of previously assaulting two boys in the 1970s when he was a young priest. However, these charges have subsequently been dropped, allowing for the disclosure of the charges that led to convictions.
The Case is Revealed
The convictions stemmed from a case occurring in 1996 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the Australian city of Melbourne. Pell, then a 55-year-old archbishop, assaulted the two victims, both 13-year-old boys, about a month after he found them drinking sacramental wine. The crimes reportedly occurred during the first or second Solemn Masses conducted in his then-new role. The surviving victim said that although he initially failed to fully comprehend the seriousness of the crime, he has since struggled with his experience. The second victim, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014, never even mentioned his own abuse. However, his father still plans to file a lawsuit against the church. Pell had pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges and still maintains his innocence.
The Ongoing Scandal
The convictions in the Pell case come in the wake of another scandal involving a high-ranking American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, who was officially expelled from the church by the Pope for sexually abusing both adults and minors. Such cases of abuse have rocked the Catholic church, particularly in the United States, Australia, and Ireland. An Australian commission had identified more than 4,000 victims of such abuse in that island nation over a 35-year period ending in 2015. The ongoing scandal has prompted Pope Francis to conduct a summit meeting designed to prevent sexual abuse within the church.
The Rights of Victims
Cases of sexual abuse occurring in a church setting can have long-term emotional, physical and even economic consequences for the victims. This is why victims and their families need the type of legal representation that will give them the justice and closure that they deserve. They can find the legal assistance they need from the law firm of KBA Attorneys. Contact us today or fill out our online application to figure out the next steps.