Australian police charge Vatican treasurer with sexual abuse

June 29, 2017 - 10:49 AM
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Australian Cardinal George Pell leaves after a meeting in Rome with victims of sexual abuse. (Reuters file)

Australian police said on Thursday they have charged the Vatican’s treasurer, Australian Cardinal George Pell, with multiple sexual assault offenses.

“Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offenses,” Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told a news conference in Melbourne.

“There are multiple complainants relating to those charges,” he said.

Patton gave no other details of the charges and would not take questions from the media.

Pell was charged by summons to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18, Patton said.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said Pell “strenuously denies” the charges and would “return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements.”

“He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously,” the statement said.

Pell, 76, was a priest in the rural Victorian town of Ballarat before he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. He has lived at the Vatican since 2014.