Cardinal George Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic cleric and a key figure in the Vatican under Pope Francis, is being investigated by police over child sex abuse allegations, a media report said on Wednesday.
It said that a special police task force had been looking into the allegations for nearly a year but has now referred the case to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.
According to the report, 75 year old Pell strongly denied the allegations in a statement to the ABC, saying “claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong”.
Pell accused media, especially, ABC broadcaster of a “scandalous smear campaign” against him.
Meanwhile, the ABC broadcaster said that police and prosecutors can decide whether the allegations warrant charges being filed against the cardinal.
The allegations went back to the 1970s when Pell was a priest in the northern Victorian town of Ballarat.
Two men, now in their 40s claimed on the programme that they had been molested in a swimming pool by Pell in the 1970s when they were young boys.
Also, another man alleged that he had seen Pell naked in front of three young boys believed to be aged between 8 to 10 in a Torquay surf club changing room in the 1980s.
However, the men said they had made statements to police.