Catholic cardinal sentenced six years in jail for sexually abusing choir boys

Catholic cardinal sentenced six years in jail for sexually abusing choir boys

Catholic cardinal sentenced six years in jail for sexually abusing choir boys

George Pell's interactions behind bars will be initially limited but in time he could be reunited with some former religious colleagues who are now among Australia's most notorious sex offenders.

Pell sat emotionless during sentencing and was visibly thinner than he had appeared before being taken into custody.

In a hearing broadcast live across the world from the courthouse Wednesday, Kidd described Pell's conduct as "permeated with staggering arrogance" and said his offences were "made significantly more serious because of the surrounding or contextual circumstances - namely the breach of trust and abuse of power".

He is the most senior Catholic to be convicted of child abuse. Pell's legal team has previously announced it will appeal his conviction on three grounds, including that the jury's verdict on all five charges was unreasonable, based on the evidence submitted.

During a pre-sentencing hearing in February, Pell's lawyers submitted 10 character references for the Cardinal - including from former Prime Minister John Howard and Australian National University vice chancellor Greg Craven. "It is hard for me, for the time being, to take comfort from this outcome".

"I watched him walking out of that court, and I thought to myself: 'Well, I'm going to sleep in my bed tonight, where are you sleeping?'" he told reporters. However, there is no rest for me.

"I am conscious that a term of imprisonment. carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison", he said. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

Going through the crimes in graphic detail, Justice Kidd said that Pell's actions had a "profound impact" on the life of the boy who survived his abuse and likely had a similar impact on a boy who later died of a heroin overdose. "I would have been happy with one month, one week", one said.

"Our client is disappointed with the short sentencing and has expressed sadness over what he believes is inadequate for the crime", Lisa Flynn said in a statement.

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The judge said Pell's age was a significant factor in determining his sentence. He has hypertension, congestive heart failure, a pacemaker and osteoarthritis. He was 31 and never reported the abuse.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a state inquiry into institutional abuse began airing accounts of child abuse and cover-ups in Ballarat and elsewhere over generations, triggering a more powerful, comprehensive Federal Royal Commission inquiry.

Pell's conviction has polarized Australia, with many hailing his downfall and others saying it is a devastating travesty of justice, reports CruxNow.

Julie Cameron, an advocate for victims of child sexual abuse, welcomed the verdict and was overcome with emotion.

"You were the archbishop of St Patrick's Cathedral - no less - and you sexually abused two choir boys within that cathedral", he told the County Court of Victoria.

That risk may be reduced by time in protection and in time, Pell may be able to mix with a limited number of heavily vetted prisoners, the commissioner noted.

December 11 - Pell found guilty on all five charges: one of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four of indecent acts with a child under 16.

The judge said the assault was committed with "a degree of physical aggression and venom".

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