Pope aide Pell arrives for sexual abuse decision

In delivering her ruling, Wallington dismissed some of the charges levelled against Pell in the pre-trial hearing, but said allegations of offences at a pool and at a church in Victoria state will be heard.

Pell, who took leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to fight the charges, was in court to hear the decision.

Cardinal Pell denied the allegations since they were laid in the middle of previous year, when he said he was ready to return to Australia and leave his job of managing the finances of the Vatican and the Holy See of Rome, in a bid to clear his name.

Richter said the evidence showed the worst of the allegations could not have occurred and he described the other charges as "reasonably insignificant".

A large police presence was on hand at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court for the arrival of Cardinal Pell.

Pell was charged by Victoria Police in June a year ago. Pell went on to become the Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

At one point, his barrister Robert Richter accused Wallington of being biased towards the prosecutors, and said the case should be thrown out as the complainants were unreliable and not credible.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court. "The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me". Australia's Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - the nation's highest form of inquiry - revealed previous year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

The precise nature of the allegations, made by several people, has not been made public. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat. His lawyers argued in court that Pell was targeted for "special treatment" by detectives from a police task force that investigated historical sex abuse.

During the pre-hearing, the defence repeatedly attacked the police investigation into Pell, which began in March 2013 before any crime had been reported.

Pell was charged by summons in Rome and agreed to return to Australia to face the allegations.

  • Jon Douglas