Photo: AP

Police from the Australian state of Victoria announced on Thursday that Cardinal George Pell‚ÄĒPope Francis‚Äôs top financial advisor and Australia‚Äôs senior Roman Catholic prelate‚ÄĒhas been charged with sexual assault, the New York Times reports.

The Victoria police department‚Äôs deputy commissioner, Shane Patton, said during a press conference on Thursday, ‚ÄúCardinal Pell is facing multiple charges‚Ķand there are multiple complaints.‚ÄĚ Patton added that the allegations constitute, ‚Äúhistorical sexual assault offenses.‚ÄĚ

Pell was previously accused of mishandling child sex abuse cases brought against clergy members while he was the leader of the Archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney. Allegations that he had sexually abused minors then began to surface, all of which he has repeatedly denied.

Last month, the Pell responded to news that authorities were considering bringing charges against him, saying, ‚ÄúI‚Äôd just like to restate my innocence. I stand by everything I‚Äôve said a the Royal Commission and in other places.: On Thursday Pell issued a similar statement in which he, ‚Äústrenuously denied all allegations.‚ÄĚ

Patton said at the press conference that Pell will be required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on July 18. Pell is the highest-ranking official in the Catholic Church to face criminal sexual assault charges in recent years.