Updated Apr 7, 2020 - World

Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's highest court.

Why it matters: The Australian cardinal was the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. The High Court's unanimous ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

The big picture: A jury found Pell guilty in 2018 of abusing two choirboys in the late 1990s. He had been in prison since March last year and lost an appeal in a lower court in Melbourne last year. Pell has always maintained his innocence.

What they're saying: "The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted," the full bench of seven judges stated in their judgment, issued on Tuesday morning local time.

  • The judges found that with respect to each of Pell's convictions there was "a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the New York Police Department late Tuesday following reports of police kettling in protesters on Manhattan Bridge.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.