Cardinal George Pell has been charged with multiple counts of child sexual assault and ordered to appear at a Melbourne court next month.
The charges relate to allegations of sexual assault during his time with the Church in Ballarat, Victoria.
Victoria Police made the announcement at a press conference this morning, with Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton saying the Vatican-based cardinal is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on July 18.
He said the “process and procedures” being followed had been the same as those applied “in a whole range of historical sex offences, whenever we investigate them”.
“The fact that he has been charged on summons — we have used advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives, which is common and standard practice.”
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Pell is Australia’s highest ranking Catholic figure and has consistently claimed the allegations against him are false.
He previously claimed the allegations are part of a media smear campaign against him.
“The allegations are untrue, I deny them absolutely,” Cardinal Pell said.
“I’m like any other Australian — I’m entitled to a fair go.”
Last year, Pell refused to give evidence in person at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuses, instead appearing via a video feed.
However, now that charges have been laid against him, he is required by law to return home and face court.
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