Australian police charge Vatican treasurer over historical sexual assaults

By Reuters/Byron Kaye,Tom Westbrook   June 29, 2017 | 08:07 am GMT+7
Australian police charge Vatican treasurer over historical sexual assaults
Australian Cardinal George Pell leaves at the end of a meeting with the victims of sex abuse, at the Quirinale hotel in Rome, Italy, March 3, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

He is the third highest ranking official in the Vatican.

Australian police said on Thursday they have charged the Vatican's treasurer, Australian Cardinal George Pell, with multiple sexual assault offences.

"Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences," Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told a news conference in Melbourne.

"There are multiple complainants relating to those charges," he said. Pell was charged by summons to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18, Patton said.

Pell's Vatican spokesman and a spokeswoman for the Australian Catholic church did not respond immediately to emails seeking comment.

Patton gave no other details of the charges and would not take questions from the media.

Pell, 76, was a priest in the rural Victorian town of Ballarat before he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. He has lived at the Vatican since 2014.