Cardinal George Pell wins appeal against child abuse convictions

Cardinal George Pell wins appeal against child abuse convictions
Photo credit: Getty

Cardinal George Pell will be freed from prison after Australia's highest court quashed his convictions for child sexual abuse.

Pell was convicted by a jury in the County Court of Victoria of abusing two 13-year-old boys at St Patrick's Cathedral in the late 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

But Pell maintained his innocence, leading to an escalating series of appeals.

Now, the High Court has found the Victorian Court of Appeal was wrong in its 2-1 majority decision last August to uphold the jury verdicts.

The full bench of seven judges were unanimous in their decision, released on Tuesday.

"On the assumption that the jury had assessed the complainant's evidence as thoroughly credible and reliable, the evidence of the opportunity witnesses nonetheless required the jury, acting rationally, to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to the applicant's guilt in relation to the offences involved in both alleged incidents," the judges said.

Pell has responded to the judges' decision in his first public statement since he was jailed.

"I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice," he said on Twitter.

"This has been remedied today with the High Court's unanimous decision.

"I hold no ill will to my accuser, I do not want my acquitel to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough."

Pell will be released later today.

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