Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Disgraced former papal advisor Cardinal George Pell launched a final bid Tuesday to have Australia's High Court overturn his convictions of child sex abuse.
His lawyers submitted a 12-page special leave application late Tuesday for Pell to appeal his guilty conviction, The Australian Financial Review reported.
The application comes weeks after an Australian appellate court rejected Pell's appeal that his guilty verdict last year was unreasonable as it relied heavily on one victim's testimony and that legal errors were committed during the trial.
Following the decision, his attorneys said they would "thoroughly examine" the ruling and appeal to Australia's High Court.
Pell, 78, was convicted in December on five counts related to the sexual abuse of two choirboys in 1990s while he was the Archbishop of Melbourne. He was sentenced to six years in prison in March, becoming the most senior Catholic official to be put behind bars for committing sex crimes against children.
The application on Tuesday seeks leave for Pell on the grounds that the judges had wrongly put the responsibility on him to prove his innocence and that the verdict was unreasonable.
"The majority [of judges] erred by finding that their belief in the complainant required [Pell] to establish that the offending was impossible in order to raise and leave a doubt," Pell's lawyers said in the application. "In light of findings made by [the majority of judges], there did remain a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any opportunity for the offending to have occurred."
The application stresses that the onus to prove his innocence was wrongly placed on Pell by the judges.
"In effect, this approach required the applicant to establish actual innocence, as opposed to merely pointing to doubt, in order to counter the favorable impression of the complainant's sincerity adopted by the majority," the leave application said. "This was a reversal of the onus and standard of proof."
If Pell is granted leave, it will be his last chance to challenge the conviction.