News People Timeline of Pell’s child sexual abuse case
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Timeline of Pell’s child sexual abuse case

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Only 100 charges against 30 individuals in the media remain over reporting of the George Pell case. Photo: Getty
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FROM ALLEGATIONS TO APPEAL: A TIMELINE OF THE GEORGE PELL CASE

1996

  •  Pell appointed Archbishop of Melbourne by Pope John Paul II
  • Pell sexually abuses two 13-year-old choirboys after a Sunday solemn mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, according to a later jury finding
  • A second indecent act is committed by Pell against one of the choirboys in a corridor at the cathedral, the same jury found.

2001-2014

  • *Pell served as Archbishop of Sydney, 2001-2014
  • He is made a cardinal in 2003

2016

  • The Herald-Sun reports Pell is being investigated by Victoria Police’s Sano taskforce for “multiple offences” committed while he was a priest in Ballarat in the 1970s and Archbishop of Melbourne
  • Pell says the allegations are “without foundation and utterly false”
  • Under Vatican rules, Pell gives Pope Francis his resignation on his 75th birthday, as is customary. It is not accepted
  • Victoria Police officers travel to Rome to interview Pell over the abuse claims. He voluntarily participates in the interview.

2017

JUNE 2017

  • Pell is charged with multiple counts of historical child sexual offences
  • He denies the charges and vows to clear his name
  • Pell takes leave from his Vatican finance chief role to fight the charges

JULY 2017

  •  Pell returns to Australia
  • He hires top barrister Robert Richter QC
  • Supporters set up a fund to help Pell fight the charges

2018

MARCH 2018

  • Prosecutors drop one of the charges against Pell
  • A month-long committal hearing begins to determine if Pell will face trial
  • Prosecutors withdraw more charges
  • Mr Richter claims police conducted a “get Pell operation” and accuses Melbourne magistrate Belinda Wallington of bias. She refuses to disqualify herself from the case

MAY 2018

  • Ms Wallington orders Pell stand trial on some charges but throws out others
  • Pell formally pleads “not guilty”
  • Two trials are ordered, separating the 1970s and 1990s allegations

AUGUST 2018

  • The 1990s “cathedral trial” begins in the Victorian County Court in Melbourne
  • Pell pleads not guilty again to one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four of indecent acts with a child, over incidents involving two 13-year-old choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996

SEPTEMBER 2018

  • The jury is discharged, unable to reach a verdict following a week of deliberation. Some jurors weep

NOVEMBER 2018

  • A retrial begins. The jury members aren’t told of the previous hung jury

DECEMBER 2018

  • Pell is found guilty on all charges by an unanimous jury
  • Mr Richter says Pell will appeal
  • Suppression orders prevent Australian media reporting the verdict but it spreads through international media within hours

2019

FEBRUARY 2019

  • Hearings begin ahead of the second trial. Prosecutors drop another charge
  • An appeal is filed against the cathedral trial conviction
  • A County Court judge deems vital evidence inadmissible
  • Prosecutors withdraw all remaining charges against Pell and drop a second trial over allegations Pell indecently assaulted boys in Ballarat in the 1970s when he was a parish priest
  • Pell is taken into custody on February 27 as the plea hearing begins

MARCH 2019

  • Pell is sentenced by County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd to a maximum of six years in prison. He must serve at least three years and eight months in jail before being eligible for parole. He will be a registered sex offender for life

JUNE 2019

  • Court of Appeal considers Pell’s application to challenge his conviction on June 5 and 6

AUGUST 2019

  • Court of Appeal rejects Pell’s appeal in a 2-1 decision, meaning he will remain behind bars

SEPTEMBER 2019

  • Pell lodges a special leave to appeal application with the High Court

NOVEMBER 2019

  • Two High Court judges refer Pell’s application to the full court to hear appeal arguments

MARCH 2020

  • Full bench of the High Court hears Pell’s appeal arguments

APRIL 2020

  • High Court hands down its judgment on Pell’s final appeal bid