An Australian judge has sentenced Cardinal George Pell to 6 years in prison on convictions of sexually abusing two choirboys in a cathedral when he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city more than 20 years ago.
A timeline of Pell’s career and the criminal case:
July 16, 1996: Auxiliary Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. Within months he abuses two choir boys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
March 26, 2001: Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
Oct. 21, 2003: Pope John Paul II makes Pell a cardinal.
Feb. 25, 2014: Pope Francis appoints Pell to the powerful position of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
April 8, 2014: One of the molested choirboys dies of a heroin overdose without alleging the crime and having told his mother he had not been abused.
Aug. 5, 2014: Victoria state police establish Task Force Sano to investigate allegations that arose from a state parliamentary inquiry into handling of child abuse by religious and other nongovernment organizations. Sano also investigates allegations made to a similar national inquiry.
June 18, 2015: The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to Sano detectives outlining criminal allegations against Pell.
Dec. 12, 2015: Australian media report that Pell has canceled an appearance before an Australian government-commissioned inquiry into how the church and other institutions responded to child sexual abuse over decades. Pell said he could not fly back to Australia because of ill health.
Dec. 23, 2015: Sano makes a public appeal for information relating to allegations of sexual offenses in Melbourne while Pell was archbishop from 1996 until 2001.
March 1, 2016: Pell begins testifying by video link for four days from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical of how the church had dealt with pedophile clerics in the past but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem. Pell said he did not immediately act when a boy raised abuse allegations against a cleric in the 1970s and should have done more.
July 27, 2016: Pell issues a statement denying sexual abuse allegations made on an Australian Broadcasting Corp. current affairs program.
Oct. 19, 2016: Santo detectives go to Rome and question Pell. Pell hears for the first time details of the choirboy’s allegations.
June 29, 2017: Police charge Pell by summons with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offenses, making him the most senior cleric to be charged in the church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took an immediate leave of absence as Vatican finance czar to return to Australia to defend himself.
July 26, 2017: Pell makes his first appearance in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in his home state of Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell was not required to enter pleas but he vowed through his lawyers to fight the allegations.
May 1, 2018: A magistrate commits Pell to stand trial after dismissing half the charges against him during a monthlong preliminary hearing. Pell pleads not guilty to all charges.
May 2, 2018: A County Court judge rules Pell’s charges will be separated into two trials. One would deal with charges relating to his time as archbishop in Melbourne in the 1990s and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat in the 1970s.
Aug. 15, 2018: Trial begins and runs for four weeks.
Sept. 20, 2018: Jury discharged after failing to agree on a verdict following more than five days of deliberation.
Nov. 7, 2018: Retrial begins.
Dec. 6, 2018: Jury retires.
Dec. 11, 2018: Jury unanimously convicts Pell on all charges.
Feb. 26, 2019: Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon second trial.
Feb. 27, 2019: Sentencing hearing is held.
March 13, 2019: Judge announces Pell is sentenced to 6 years in prison on five sex abuse convictions and must serve a minimum of 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.