Cardinal Pell expected to face two trials

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court on Tuesday (CNS/Daniel Pockett, Reuters)

Cardinal George Pell is likely to face two trials and two juries, with a date for his first trial yet to be set. Source: The Age.

Less than 24 hours after being committed to stand trial on half of the historic sexual assault charges he faced, Cardinal Pell returned to court yesterday, but this time to appear before a County Court judge instead of a magistrate.

Cardinal Pell has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges involving multiple complainants. Details of the charges are yet to be revealed.

During a 12-minute directions hearing before judge Sue Pullen, prosecutor Mark Gibson SC, and defence counsel Robert Richter QC, agreed that the allegations against the cardinal should be split and heard in two trials.

Allegations that Cardinal Pell sexually assaulted multiple accusers in a Ballarat swimming pool in the 1970s are set to be heard in one trial, the court heard, and allegations he sexually assaulted an accuser in St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s are set to be heard in the other.

“They are of a completely different nature,’’ Mr Richter said of the respective allegations, “and separated by 20 years."

Judge Pullen said a trial date would likely be set at the next directions hearing on May 16, when it is expected prosecutors and the cardinal’s defence team will formally apply for separate trials.

Together, the two trials would run for up to 10 weeks, including pre-trial legal argument, Mr Gibson said.

He told Judge Pullen prosecutors could take up to three months to prepare for the trials, but Mr Richter said he wanted the first trial to start sooner rather than later.

He said his client’s age was a factor in wanting the trials to start soon, as was the age – 80 – and health of a key witness.

“And everyone needs to get on with their lives,’’ Mr Richter said.

Judge Pullen said she wanted prosecutors to have their indictment ready soon.

“You have got to move on this,’’ she told Mr Gibson.

FULL STORY

George Pell set to face two trials over historical assault allegations (The Age)

RELATED COVERAGE

Cardinal George Pell could still face trial on all charges originally laid (Herald Sun)

Cardinal George Pell in court for hearing over historical sex offences (The Australian)

The trial of the century (The Australian)

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