Cardinal George Pell, the most senior member of the Catholic Church in Australia, has been charged with multiple historical sexual assault offenses, Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton said Thursday.
Pell has previously denied covering up abuse committed by priests when he served as the Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001. But he acknowledged his predecessor, Archbishop Frank Little, now deceased, had destroyed documents to protect priests.
He now serves as the Archbishop of Sydney.
"I want to be perfectly clear -- the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offenses whenever we investigate them," Patton said. "Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation."
Pell will be required to appear in the Melbourne Magistrate's court on July 18th for a filing hearing. He is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants relating to those charges, police said.