Sydney, Australia | AFP | Australian Cardinal George Pell, released from prison last week after a court overturned his child sex conviction, was warned by police Tuesday of online threats against him, as new abuse allegations also emerged.
Pell walked free last week after the Australian High Court cleared him of five counts of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s, ending the most high-profile paedophilia case faced by the Catholic Church.
But on Tuesday, as Pell released excerpts from his prison diary and blamed his conviction on “culture wars” against conservative Christians, a major newspaper reported there was a fresh investigation into the 78-year-old.
The new allegation of child sex abuse — being investigated by police — dates back to the 1970s, the Herald Sun reported.
Police Tuesday visited the Sydney seminary where Pell has been staying to discuss his security, a spokesman for Sydney’s Catholic Archdiocese said in a statement aimed at dispelling rumours it was related to the Herald Sun report.
It came ahead of a pre-recorded interview, aired on Sky News Australia, in which Pell said he felt like he had been convicted for the wrongs of the Catholic church, and questioned the motive of his accuser.
“I wonder whether he was used,” Pell said of his accuser, who can’t be named for legal reasons.
“Our memory is so fallible or something might have happened by someone else in some other place and it’s transferred into this impossible scenario,” he said.
“I don’t know what the poor fellow was up to.”
A jury convicted Pell in December 2018 and the decision was upheld by a Court of Appeal three-judge panel in a split verdict in August.
But the High Court’s seven justices unanimously found the lower court had “failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place”.