MELBOURNE, Australia — Two former employees of the cathedral school in Melbourne, Australia, are expressing strong doubts about the charges that landed Cardinal George Pell — the most senior member of the hierarchy ever convicted of sexual abuse — in prison.

The former employees, Lil Sinozic and Jean Corish, have also expressed disappointment that Cardinal Pell’s defense team did not call them as witnesses in the trial.

Cardinal Pell, 78, was convicted of exposing himself and forcing two choir boys to commit sex acts while fully vested in his Sunday Mass garb, almost immediately after Mass in the priests’ sacristy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996. He was at that time archbishop of Melbourne.

He was also convicted of fondling one of the boys in a corridor in 1997.

Cardinal Pell has maintained his innocence, with his defense making central the argument that the alleged crimes would have been, under the circumstances, “simply impossible.”

Both Cornish and Sinozic were on duty nearly every Sunday morning at the cathedral in late 1996.

Sinozic, a former teacher and executive assistant to then-Father — now Msgr. — Charles Portelli, who was Cardinal Pell’s master of ceremonies, echoed the defense, insisting that the circumstances of the alleged crimes as presented to the jury simply did not add up.

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