Cardinal George Pell calls child abuse allegations a smear campaign

ABC reports on year-long investigation into allegations Pell abused children in Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne

A Victoria police taskforce has reportedly been investigating Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic and a top Vatican official, for more than a year and has referred child abuse allegations to prosecutors.

Pell has consistently denied the allegations and said claims he abused young children in Victoria are “totally untrue and completely wrong”.

The ABC has reported police are investigating multiple allegations of abuse by Pell in Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne.

Pell’s office has made a statement to the ABC denying the allegations and describing them as “nothing more than a scandalous smear campaign”.

“If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the royal commission by now,” the statement said.

Two men told the ABC Pell groped them at a Victorian pool in the 1970s.

The men, who were in primary school at the time, said Pell abused them when he would frequent Ballarat’s Eureka pool during the summer of 1978-79, according to the ABC.

One of the men, Lyndon Monument, told the ABC’s 7.30 he was reluctant to speak up because of the power Pell held.

“I didn’t like it but because it was a church and he was George Pell, we just – you just weren’t game to ever say anything, you know what I mean,” Monument told 7.30.

The two men, now in their 40s, have given separate statements to Victoria police’s special taskforce Sano last year.

Pell, who was a priest in Ballarat in the 70s, has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying claims he has sexually abused anyone, at any place, at any time, were “totally untrue and completely wrong”.

Last month the Victoria police chief commissioner, Graham Ashton, confirmed child exploitation taskforce Sano was still investigating the cardinal.

It was first reported there was a police investigation into Pell before he was due to give evidence to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in February.

At the time he denied the allegations and called for an inquiry into Victoria police.

with Australian Associated Press

Guardian staff

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