BREAKING NEWS: Cardinal Pell charged with multiple child sex assaults

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Pell, who now lives in Rome, is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Tuesday July 18. (Image screenshot video HuffPost / @HuffPostAU)



(Report by contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.)

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL has been charged on summons with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offences.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton made the announcement in Melboune this morning but took no questions from the media.

Pell, who now lives in Rome, is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court next month on Tuesday July 18.

For weeks VicPol representatives have been saying an announcement about whether charges against Pell would be laid or not, was imminent but in recent days there was loud rumour that negotiations with Pell's lawyers were near complete.

"General" Patton confirmed that the charges were served today on Pell's Melbourne lawyers as well as being lodged with the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

He confirmed that Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of the historic sexual offences and that there were multiple complainants relating to these charges.

The Deputy Commissioner stressed that Cardinal Pell had been treated the same as any other person.

During the course of the investigation in relation to Cardinal Pell, there has been a lot of reporting in the media and a lot of speculation about the process that has been involved in the investigation and also the charging.

So for clarity, I want to be perfectly clear, the process and procedures that are being followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them.

The fact that he has been charged on summons, we have used advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives is common and standard practice.

So there has been no change in any procedures whatsoever. Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation.

There has been much speculation about Pell's file travelling to and fro' VicPol and the Offfice of Public Prosecutions.

Patton confirmed that advice

“... was received and sought from the Office of Public Prosecutions, however ultimately the choice to charge Cardinal Pell was one that was made by Victoria Police.”

He also noted Cardinal Pell 's right to due process:

It is important to note that none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have obviously been tested in any court yet.

Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course.

Preserving the integrity of that process is essential to all of us and so for Victoria Police it is important that it is allowed to go through unhindered and allowed to see natural justice is afforded to all the parties involved, including Cardinal Pell and the complainants in this matter.

Sky News is reporting that Pell is looking forward to his day in Court and vigorously defending the charges.

Cardinal Pell is scheduled to make a statement in Rome about 4.30pm this afternoon, our time.

Ironically, news of the charges follows closely after the tragic death of Anthony Foster, the internationally reknowned advocate of child abuse survivors/victims and catalyst for both Victoria's Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

I know that Anthony would endorse the view that George Pell, like anyone else, is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

At long last, both the complainants and the defendant will have their day in court.

We seek justice. Not revenge.

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