Australian archbishop cleared of abuse charge


 The Archbishop of Sidney, Dr George Pell, has been cleared of allegations that he sexually assaulted a boy over 40 years ago. The Sidney Morning Herald reports that retired Victorian Supreme Court judge, Alec Southwell, who headed the independent church inquiry, said he was not satisfied that the complaint against Dr Pell had been established. He said the absence of forensic evidence due to the 40-year interval between the alleged offence and the investigation, the complainant's credibility, lack of corroborative evidence and Dr Pell's sworn denial of the accusations were key factors in the inquiry's conclusion. Dr Pell, who stood down from all official duties when the investigations began in August, celebrated his first Mass at St Mary's cathedral yesterday. He told the Herald: "I am grateful to God that this ordeal is over and that the inquiry has exonerated me of all allegations." The complainant's lawyer, Peter Ward, of the Melbourne firm Galbally and O'Bryan, also claimed vindication yesterday. He said the inquiry had firmly quashed previous assertions that the complainant's accusations were vindictive and motivated by the prospect of monetary compensation and malice. He said: "Our client is happy with the result. His honesty has been accepted, and that's all he wanted. It's closure. He never wanted compensation or civil redress."

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