Sex charge against George Pell dropped after accuser's death
ONE of the historical sexual offence charges against Cardinal George Pell has been withdrawn because the accuser has died.
Crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC today told Melbourne Magistrates Court one charge was being withdrawn.
Cardinal Pell, 76, will face a four-week hearing beginning on Monday to determine if he stands trial on historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants.
Details of Cardinal Pell's alleged offending, and the number of charges, is not yet known.
But Cardinal Pell vehemently denies the allegations against him, and when charged in June last year, said he would fight them in court.
The withdrawn charge comes two days after Cardinal Pell's lawyers were denied access to materials relating to one of his alleged victim's criminal history.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington said she had no power to compel Victoria Legal Aid to hand over the material from when they represented the complainant in unrelated criminal matters in 2006 and 2012.
It comes after Magistrate Wallington earlier this month refused requests by the Cardinal's lawyers to get copies of his complainants' private medical records.
Following an administrative hearing earlier this year, ABC journalist Louise Milligan handed over research notes for a book about Cardinal Pell and background material used to prepare TV reports for the national broadcaster to his lawyers.
But the names of confidential sources have been redacted to protect their identity.
The Cardinal has taken leave from his post as the Vatican's finance chief but has vowed to return to the top job once he clears his name.
When he was charged in June Cardinal Pell made a statement proclaiming his innocence.
"I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sex offences is abhorrent to me," he said.
"News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity, to clear my name and then return to my work in Rome.
"I am looking forward finally to having my day in court," he said.