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The Latest: Accusers testify at hearing for Cardinal Pell

March 5, 2018

Cardinal George Pell, centre, walks through security checks at an Australian court, in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, March 5, 2018. Pell attended a hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him on sexual abuse charges. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on the court appearance of Australian Cardinal George Pell over sex abuse charges (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

The alleged victims of the most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis have begun giving secret evidence to an Australian court.

Australian Cardinal George Pell appeared in the Melbourne Magistrate Court on Monday wearing his clerical collar for the first day a hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to put him on trial.

Pell’s committal hearing before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month.

The testimony of alleged victims was suppressed from publication and the court was closed to the public and media. Their testimony may last two weeks.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson said the complainants would give evidence by a video link. Defense lawyer Robert Richter said he did not object to the complainants not attending court in person.

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11 a.m.

Members of the public and media have been barred from attending Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing over sexual assault charges while complainants give sensitive testimony.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington will likely keep the court closed to the public for the next two weeks as the testimony unfolds.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson told Wallington that some complainants would give evidence by a video link. Defense lawyer Robert Richter said he did not object to the complainants not attending court in person.

The hearing is scheduled to take up to a month.

The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the allegations as decades-old sexual assault offenses.

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10:25 a.m.

Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing over sexual abuse charges has begun at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia.

Pell took a seat in the first row of public seating behind his four lawyers, led by Robert Richter.

Media outnumber the members of the public in the cramped courtroom, approximately 15 meters (49 feet) by 11 meters (36 feet).

The hearing before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the allegations as decades-old sexual assault offenses.

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9:45 a.m.

Cardinal George Pell arrived at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia wearing a clerical collar.

There had been some speculation about whether he would wear the Roman Catholic Church garb for his court appearance Monday.

Pell was accompanied by his lawyer Paul Galbally. Pell emptied his pockets before walking through a metal detector as security guards ensured the public and media kept their distance.

His committal hearing before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the allegations as decades-old sexual assault offenses.

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9:25 a.m.

Cardinal George Pell has arrived at the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him on sexual abuse charges.

Clad in a light-colored coat, Pell arrived by car Monday morning and was flanked by police as he walked through a large group of media and into the court security screening area.

His committal hearing before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the allegations as decades-old sexual assault offenses.

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7:30 a.m.

The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis is set to appear in an Australian court on Monday in a hearing to test whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try him.

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court before Magistrate Belinda Wallington is scheduled to take up to a month, with testimony of alleged victims likely to be suppressed from publication.

Pope Francis’ former finance minister was charged in June of last year with sexually abusing multiple people in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as “historical” sexual assault offenses.

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