‘Vile homophobic’ cardinal George Pell freed from jail after court quashes his convictions for sexually abusing boys

Photo of Cardinal George Pell wearing a gret suit jacket over a black shirt as he leaves Victoria county court in Melbourne surrounded by photographers

Cardinal George Pell, who has said homosexuality is “wrong”, has been freed from prison after a court overturned his convictions for child sexual abuse.

Pell, 78, is the most senior Catholic figure ever to go to jail for child sex crimes.

The former Vatican treasurer had pleaded not guilty to committing sexual offences in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996.

In 2018, a jury found him guilty of abusing two 13-year-old choir boys and he was sent to jail for six years.

The High Court of Australia quashed that verdict today, according to the BBC, and he has been released from jail.

Seven judges unanimously found the jury at the Australian cleric’s original trial had failed to properly consider all the evidence presented.

This was Pell’s final legal appeal, after a lower court upheld his conviction last year.

He was released from Victoria’s Barwon Prison a few hours after the High Court of Australia judges quashed his conviction.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Pell said in a statement after the decision.

He had served over 400 days of his sentence. On his release, he was driven to a Carmelite Monastery in Melbourne.

Cardinal George Pell legal case.

George Pell, who was once one of the Pope’s most senior advisers, had maintained his innocence since being charged by police in 2017.

His case rocked the Catholic church.

Pell was found guilty in 2018 on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and on four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

During his trial, the court reportedly heard how in 1996, Pell told his teenage victims that they were in trouble for drinking communion wine before forcing them into indecent acts.

He abused one of the boys again in 1997.

The jury heard testimony from one of Pell’s victims. The other died from a drug overdose in 2014.

Pell has a long history of anti-gay statements.