SYDNEY, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) - A jury has found Cdl. George Pell guilty on all counts related to sexually abusing two altar boys.
According to sources who spoke to The Daily Beast, a jury returned a unanimous verdict Tuesday against the Australian cardinal after three days of deliberation. Church Militant confirmed the news with its own inside sources in Australia. Further details are unavailable, as the court has issued a suppression order to Australian media to "prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice."
A previous trial resulted in a hung jury.
Pell had been accused of molesting two altar boys during a swimming trip in the 1990s, when he was bishop in Ballarat, a town northwest of Melbourne. Pell has vigorously denied the allegations, and his attorney, Robert Richter, said in 2017 that there is "voluminous" evidence to show that "what was alleged is impossible."
Although multiple accusations were levelled at the cardinal initially, the court threw out most of them.
Pell was named the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, making him the third highest-ranking cleric in Rome. He was brought in ostensibly to clean up Vatican finances, exercising oversight over Vatican properties and personnel.
His proposed reforms, however, which included demands for greater transparency, met with resistance. According to Vatican expert Edward Pentin, the "Old Guard" resisted reform out of fears it would reveal their corruption.
Pope Francis restricted Pell's powers without notice in a motu proprio he issued in 2016. And a financial audit by the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was cut short by the Secretary of State after only four months.
One source who spoke with Pentin complained that the reforms were "dead, over, finished, they've been blocked."
"The corruption continues; it's just better concealed," the inside source added, saying Vatican finances had returned to being as bad as they were before Pell's reforms, and possibly worse.
Libero Milone, the Vatican's auditor general, initially put in place to implement reforms, was fired in 2017, the Vatican accusing him of "spying" on officials. Milone, however, claims it was the other way around: The Vatican was spying on him, and he was fired because he had discovered financial irregularities that threatened Vatican officials.
One week later, Pell also left the Vatican, granted permission by Pope Francis to stand trial in Australian court over charges of "historical sexual offenses."
"All along I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations," Pell said at the time. "News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work."
Some have called out the pope for an apparent double standard: In September he had refused to allow Cdl. Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to stand trial for allegations of sex abuse cover-up, citing sovereign immunity.