Cardinal George Pell: Police told they can charge him
CARDINAL George Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic, could soon face criminal charges after a lengthy investigation into historic child sex allegations.
Victoria Police received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions on Tuesday about the allegations against Rome-based Cardinal Pell.
The Herald Sun is reporting that advice from the DPP is that charges could be laid against the cardinal, based on the brief of evidence investigators have gathered
A police spokeswoman confirmed to news.com.au the long-awaited DPP advice was now with officers.
"Victoria Police can confirm that it has received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to a current investigation into historical sexual assault allegations," the spokeswoman said.
"Detectives from Taskforce Sano will now take time to consider that advice."
The Sano Taskforce has been investigating explosive allegations that Cardinal Pell committed "multiple offences" when he was a priest in Ballarat and while he was archbishop of Melbourne.
It has been alleged the now 75-year-old sexually abused minors by "both grooming and opportunity''.
The alleged victims - there are as many as 10 - are now aged in their late 20s to early 50s.
The Office of Public Prosecutions first reviewed the initial brief of evidence last year without making a recommendation on whether or not charges should be laid.
The police brief was revised and sent back to the OPP for consideration after Cardinal Pell was questioned in Rome by three detectives from Sano Taskforce.
The Herald Sun revealed the investigation into Cardinal Pell in an exclusive story more than a year ago.
Cardinal Pell has strongly and repeatedly denied the allegations, describing them as "completely false".
As recently as this weekend, a statement from his office him again stated his "vehement" denial of the allegations.
"Cardinal Pell has not been notified by the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions or Victoria Police of the status of their investigations, which have been underway since at least February 2016."
"Cardinal Pell will not seek to interfere in the course of justice by responding to the allegations made [in the media at the weekend] other than to restate that any allegations of child abuse made against him are completely false."
The statement continued: "He repeats his vehement and consistent denials of any and all such accusations, and stands by all the evidence he has given to the Royal Commission."
The Victoria Police spokeswoman said any decision on charges would be made by senior police.
"As with any investigation it will be a decision for Victoria Police as to whether charges are laid."
As this remains an ongoing investigation, we will not be commenting further at this time."
When approached for a statement on the Cardinal's behalf on Tuesday evening, the Catholic Archdiocese in Sydney said there was "no comment at this time".
Even if charges were laid, Cardinal Pell would have to voluntarily agree to return to Australia to face court.