Stanford University Cardinal George Pell pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony charge that could land him up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for allegedly falsifying medical records in the case of a woman he was having an affair with.
In a statement, Pell admitted to falsifying records for a patient who died and said that he did so to protect his relationship with the woman.
Pell said that when he went to the hospital in December to see the woman, he had a medical appointment that was canceled.
He was informed that the patient was dead and that she was pregnant, but Pell said that it was a false diagnosis.
He also said that the woman was a victim of the sex abuse that occurred decades earlier when he was a youth minister at the Cathedral of Learning.
“I am truly sorry that I did not know that my actions were wrong and I am truly ashamed and embarrassed that I have let these mistakes affect my reputation and reputation of the church,” Pell said in the statement.
“My faith is the bedrock of my entire life and I want to apologize to the woman who died, the family and to all those affected by this.”
Pell has maintained his innocence, but the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison and up to $50 of fines.
He has also pleaded not to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false instrument and a misdemeanor of furnishing false statements.
He faces up to two years in county jail and up a $250 fine.
The Stanford News Service contributed to this report.