Prosecutor on Friday withdrew one charge of sexual abuse filed againstCardinal George Pell because the accuser has died, Australian media reported.
Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse, will face a four-week committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrate’s Court from Monday which will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson told the court on Friday one charge was being withdrawn.
The court was told previously that one of the complainants had died.
It is not known how many complainants there are, except that there are several.
Pell, 76, has consistently denied the allegations against him. For legal reasons, very few details of the case against him can be reported.
He is currently on leave from the Vatican, where he was one of Pope Francis’ most senior aides.
At the hearing next week, complainants will be the first to give evidence, during which the court will be closed, a standard practice in Victoria for hearings involving sexual offence charges.
Judge Belinda Wallington told lawyers that the cross-examination of witnesses and complainants would not “delve into detail that is likely to cause distress.”
“There is no intention to trawl through detail of abuse at the hands of other clergy,” Wallington said, according to Australian Associated Press.
One of Pell’s defence barristers, Ruth Shann, said at issue was the timing of complaints.
Pell does not have to enter a plea until the end of the committal hearing, but his defence barrister, Robert Richter, has told a previous hearing that the cardinal would plead not guilty.
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