Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

Pell's age, his otherwise good character, notoriety and lifelong sex offender registration minimise his risk of re-offending, the judge said.

Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years in jail for sexually abusing two choirboys when he was Catholic archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

"Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending", County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said of Pell during the sentencing, where he described Pell's crimes as "brazen" and grave".

He was sexually abused by Pell in the priest's sacristy after a Sunday mass in December 1996, forced to watch as Pell molested his 13-year-old friend, and then molested again by Pell a month later.

The top Catholic was convicted in December, but the verdict was suppressed from being made public by a court order until 26 February, when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.

Pell, who has maintained his innocence and plans to appeal, appeared in a Melbourne court after being convicted on five offences including oral rape and molestation of the boys in 1996-1997.

Senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC foreshadowed in a pre-sentence hearing in February that Pell would likely spend "significant time" in prison.

Pell is the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be found guilty of abuse. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal", he said in a statement read by his lawyer.

The total non-parole period handed down is three years and eight months.

The second incident, though less serious in nature, was committed against a boy who had already been abused by Pell, he noted.

"I think really, the point is, under the systems that work at the moment and the sentencing of other convicted paedophiles, it's a tough sentence", Neil Mitchell said.

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Abuse survivors were among those who travelled to Melbourne on Wednesday to witness Pell's sentencing before a packed courtroom.

"You are not to be made a scapegoat. for the Catholic church", he said.

She said Pell's reaction was cold and that seemed uninterested in what she had to say.

One of the victims died in 2014.

Judge Peter Kidd cited the cardinal's advanced age and various health issues in considering his sentence.

Worshipper Darryl D'Souza said Pell's conviction and sentencing was a sad situation for Catholics, but it did not change his belief in God or the church.

Several of Pell's other high-profile friends in Australia have leaped to his defense, questioning the jury's verdict and predicting the cardinal would be exonerated on appeal.

Statistics released in 2017 by Australia's Royal Commission into Responses to Institutional Child Sex Abuse stated that 7% of all Catholic priests in the country had abused children over the past six decades.

Pell would be registered as a sex offender for life.

Lawyer Anna Swain, who works at a legal advice service for sexual abuse survivors, said there had been an influx of calls from people in the wake of Pell's conviction.

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