Pedophile cardinal George Pell has lodged a special leave application with the High Court to try to challenge his convictions for sexually abusing choirboys.

The 78-year-old pedophile remained behind bars on Tuesday as his lawyers lodged a special leave application with Australia’s highest court.

A spokesperson for the High Court confirmed it had received the application through its Melbourne registry, “requesting leave to appeal a decision”.

Published in SBS

Snippets of the 12-page document show Pell’s argument includes that the offending was impossible – a case also used by lawyers during his jury trial.

The matter will be considered by a panel and either dismissed, accepted or further examined with the parties called to a brief hearing.

The process can take anywhere up to six months, and if successful in seeking leave, Pell’s lawyers will lodge a full appeal with the High Court.

Pell’s legal team had 28 days to lodge the bid with the High Court after appeals judges dismissed the cardinal’s case on 21 August.

He was emotionless in the dock as Victoria’s Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in a 2-1 decision, but his legal team later flagged a possible High Court bid.

Pell’s lawyers had argued on grounds including that the jury verdicts were “unsafe and unsatisfactory”.

Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and President Chris Maxwell voted to deny Pell’s appeal but Justice Mark Weinberg voted for his acquittal. They published a 325-page judgment explaining their decisions.

The 78-year-old cleric, who was once an advisor to the Pope in the Vatican, is serving a maximum six-year sentence for the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

The earliest Pell can be released is October 2022, when he will be 81.

A jury found him guilty of sexual crimes against the two boys and his offending was described as “brazen” by the sentencing judge.

He was the Archbishop of Melbourne at the time of offences.

One of the victims has since died. His father on Tuesday said he was “beyond disappointed” to hear of the High Court bid.

“Every time Pell takes his legal fight to the next level our client is reminded of the disgusting abuse he inflicted on his son as a young choirboy,” lawyers for the man said in a statement

“Hearing the news this afternoon has made him angry.

“He has no doubt George Pell sexually abused his son.”

The High Court bid would be Pell’s final chance to challenge his child sex convictions.

Pell has always denied that as the newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne, he raped and molested the boys.

He committed the crimes after exposing himself while dressed in his ornate ceremonial robes and fresh from presiding over Sunday solemn mass.

In August, the Vatican issued a statement, “reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system”.

“As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.

“At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.”

A spokesperson for Cardinal Pell confirmed the leave application had been lodged with the High Court and declined to comment further.

By SBS news
Published in SBS
17 September 2019