Top pope aide investigated for Australia child sex abuse: report

AFP , Wednesday 27 Jul 2016

Top pope aide investigated for Australia child sex abuse: Report
File Photo of Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 6, 2013. (Reuters)

Vatican finance Chief George Pell is being investigated by Australian police over child sexual abuse allegations, a report by the national broadcaster said Thursday, as the leading Catholic cleric denounced the claims as "totally untrue".

The new allegations against Pell being probed by police in Victoria State span two decades, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported, and came just months after the cardinal admitted he "mucked up" in dealing with paedophile priests in the state.

When he was the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney in 2002 Pell was accused of historic sex abuse claims but was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The ABC said it had obtained eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family members helping the police investigation. The report included claims Pell touched two boys inappropriately in a pool in the late 1970s.

But the 75-year-old strongly denied the allegations in a statement to the ABC, saying "claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong".

A Victoria Police spokeswoman told AFP they would not be making any comments.

The national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is ongoing in Australia and was established after a decade of growing pressure to investigate widespread allegations of paedophilia.

The police investigation is part of a wider probe into complaints that emerge out of the royal commission.

The commission's hearings are covering harrowing allegations of child abuse involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.

Pell previously told the commission he was not aware of offences that had occurred in Victoria, where paedophile priests abused dozens of children in the 1970s and 1980s.

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