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Top Vatican cardinal to stand trial for sexual assault charges

Cardinal George Pell will stand trial on historical sexual assault charges, an Australian court ruled on Tuesday, making him the most senior Catholic cleric to face a jury in relation to abuse scandals that have dogged the church for decades.

Cardinal Pell, who is one Pope Francis’s most trusted advisers, pleaded not guilty to the charges, including allegations of sexually offending at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne and at a swimming pool in Ballarat in the 1970s.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington struck out some of the allegations against the 76 year old churchman, ruling there was insufficient evidence for him to be convicted by a jury.

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