Cardinal George Pell, once the third most powerful man in the Vatican and Australia's most senior Catholic, has been found guilty of child sex abuse following a trial in Melbourne. A jury delivered a unanimous verdict on December 11 last year in Melbourne's county court, but the result was subject to a suppression order and could not be reported until today.
A previous trial on the same five charges, which began in August, resulted in a hung jury leading to a retrial.
The Guardian reports Pell was found guilty of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 16, as well as four charges of an indecent act with a child under the age of 16. The offences occurred in December 1996 and early 1997 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, months after Pell was inaugurated as archbishop of Melbourne. The victims were aged 13 at the time.
RELATED: George Pell: A Journalist's Quest For The Truth
Pell is due to be sentenced in the coming weeks and has been out on bail since the verdict last year. He will be the highest-ranking Catholic figure in the world to be jailed for child sex abuse.
Pope Francis has yet to publicly react, but just two days after the unreported verdict in December the Vatican announced that Pell and two other cardinals had been removed from the pontiff’s council of advisers.
RELATED: Cardinal George Pell Sex Abuse Verdict: Now Is The Time To Remember The Survivors