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Pell to appeal guilty verdict

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The cardinal faces up to 50 years in prison

Cardinal Pell has lodged an appeal against his conviction for sexual offences, his lawyers have said.

In a statement issued after a court lifted reporting restrictions, the cardinal’s legal team said he has “always maintained his innocence and continues to do so.”

“An appeal has been lodged against his conviction and he will await the outcome of the appeal process,” they added.

“Although originally the Cardinal faced allegations from a number of complainants, all charges except for those the subject of the appeal have now been either withdrawn, discharged or discontinued. He will not be commenting in the meantime.”

Australian newspaper The Age reports that judge Peter Kidd has ordered Pell to be remanded in custody after a plea hearing on Wednesday. He will likely be sentenced within the next couple of weeks, and faces a sentence of up to 50 years.

Pell’s accuser, who cannot be named, released a statement thanking his family for their support.

“Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle. Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life,” the man said.

“At some point we realise that we trusted someone we should have feared and we fear those genuine relationships that we should trust.”

The Vatican said it would await the outcome of the appeal process, saying that Cardinal Pell “has reaffirmed his innocence and has the right to defend himself to the last degree”.

Upon re-entering Australia to stand trial, the local bishop imposed sanctions on the cardinal forbidding him from exercising public ministry and having any voluntary contact with minors. Pope Francis confirmed that these will remain in place during the appeal process.

“While we are awaiting a definitive judgement, we unite ourselves with the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse, and reaffirming our commitment to do everything possible so that the Church might be safe home for all, especially for children and the most vulnerable,” the statement said.