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Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to abuse charges in Australia


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VATICAN CITY (CAN/EWTN News) -- In a brief hearing in a court in Melbourne July 26, Cardinal George Pell said he will be pleading not guilty to charges of multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pell did not address the court, but his lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court July 26 that "for the avoidance of doubt...Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to all charges, and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has.

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In the less than 10-minute-long hearing, the judge, Magistrate Duncan Reynolds, read a prepared statement outlining the reason for the hearing and noted that it was purely administrative.

The senior prosecutor of the case, Andrew Tinney, SC, addressed a packed courtroom with a statement emphasizing the need for "fair and accurate reporting" by media.

Prosecutors have a deadline of Sept. 8 to prepare their brief of evidence, but Tinney indicated that it would likely be ready as early as late next week. The next step in the trial will be a preliminary hearing -- called the committal mention -- which is set for Oct. 6.

The July 26 hearing follows the announcement at the end of June that the police of Victoria, Australia were charging Cardinal Pell on multiple counts of past sexual abuse.

Following the announcement of the charges, Pell held a news briefing with journalists June 29, maintaining his innocence and saying he takes leave from his position as the Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy in order "to clear my name."

"I am looking forward, finally, to having my day in court. I'm innocent of these charges, they are false," he said, adding that "the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

"News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here, back to Rome, to work," he continued.

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