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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 12:20 pm

Top Vatican official to face Australian court on sex charges

KRISTEN GELINEAU | Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia – The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis is preparing to make his first court appearance in Australia.

Cardinal George Pell is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Wednesday. He is Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis' top financial adviser.

Pell was charged last month with sexually abusing multiple people years ago in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as "historical" sexual assault offenses. That generally means crimes that occurred years ago.

Pell's hearing will likely last just minutes, and deal largely with administrative matters such as setting future court dates. He has vehemently denied the allegations against him.