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He became the highest-ranking Vatican official to be formally accused by law enforcement when Australian police charged him Thursday.Advocates for victims of child abuse said that allowing Pell to face charges in Australia, rather than keeping him inside the walls of Vatican City, was a major step for a church that might have shielded him in earlier years.But they also said that the cardinal’s ability to remain in his post until Thursday, despite controversy about his role in the Australian church’s years of abuse, was a sign that Francis had not fully reckoned with one of the most painful chapters in modern Catholic history.The case pulls Francis’s papacy back into the abuse scandals that have battered the church for nearly two decades and led to demands for sweeping changes on monitoring, selecting and training the clergy.It repealed almost all of the previous statute law relating to sexual offences, including the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and the Indecency with Children Act 1960.Its purpose was to strengthen and update the law on sexual offences and improve the protection of individuals from offenders.Australian tennis coach Nikolaos Philippoussis has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges relating to child molestation.

Pell, one of the most powerful officials in the Vatican, said he would return to his native Australia to fight multiple charges of sexual assault.

Prosecutors consider this in two stages: When it comes to other offences, such as those committed against children, there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove an absence of consent.

In such cases it is only necessary to prove the act itself took place and the age of the alleged victim.

The significant passage of time does not prevent the effective prosecution of sexual offences and charges contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and Indecency with Children Act 1960 are still used regularly by prosecutors when dealing with criminality which took place before May 2004.

Section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines consent as: "if he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice".

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