One Pell sexual offence charge withdrawn

A sexual offence charge against Australian Cardinal George Pell has been withdrawn because his accuser died.

Mark Gibson SC, crown prosecutor, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday the charge following the death of key witness Damian Dignan was being withdrawn.

However, Pell still faces numerous other sexual offence charges.

He is denying all of them.

His four-week committal hearing began yesterday in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

The hearing will decide if he must stand trial on the remaining complainants.

The exact details and nature of the charges laid against Pell have not been disclosed to the public.

Police have described them as “historical” sexual assaults. This means they are alleged to have occurred decades ago.

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with historical sexual offences.

His barrister, Ruth Shann, says the question to be decided involves the timing of complaints.

“… but relevant to that particular witness [ie Dignan] it is also the timing of the … allegations because of material that we are aware of which makes those people in those locations at that time, in essence, impossible,” Shann says.

The potential penalties Pell may face if he is found guilty have not been made public.

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News category: World.

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