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Australian Cardinal George Pell jailed six years for abusing boys

13 March, 2019, 16:43 | Author: Taylor George
  • Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne Australia Feb 26

County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd begins sentencing the "otherwise blameless" George Pell for five sexual abuse offences against two choirboys in the 1990s.

Pell was found guilty of cornering the two boys, who were aged 13 at the time and on scholarships to the prestigious St Kevin's College, in the sacristy after Sunday mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in December 1996, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

The cardinal, 77, maintains his innocence and is appealing against his convictions.

Asked by a reporter outside court after the sentencing whether the case against Pell amounted to a witch hunt, his lawyer Robert Richter gave a rueful smile.

Pell was found guilty of orally raping one choirboy and molesting the other in December 1996 and assaulting one of the boys again in February 1997.

"I think it was a very considered sentencing and I think the judge went through the things he could take into account and the things he did not", Dr Waller said.

Judge Kidd said Pell's abuse was particularly callous because the cleric had been in a position of power. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

Pell will be eligible for parole after 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.

"Facing jail at your age in these circumstances must be an very bad state of affairs for you", Kidd said, the Guardian reported.

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A large crowd, including abuse victims, advocates and media, waited outside the courtroom for the doors to open this morning.

Pell sat emotionless and unflinching as the sentence was handed out.

"Self-evidently you have experienced an exceptional career with the Catholic Church".

The other boy, who never filed a complaint against Pell, had died in 2014 from a heroin overdose.

The most senior Catholic of all, Pope Francis, who faces calls to strip Pell of his Cardinal status, has said he would withhold comment until the appeal process was concluded.

Kidd made it clear that Pell's sentence was based exclusively on the crimes he was convicted of by the jury, and that Pell was not to be made a scapegoat for the failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.

Pell suffers from what Judge Kidd described as "significant enough" health issues, including hypertension, congestive heart failure - he has a pacemaker - and osteoarthritis in both knees.

In the decades since, evidence of widespread abuse has emerged globally.

"An appeal has been lodged against his conviction and he will await the outcome of the appeal process", the statement said.

"To offend in such a risky and brazen manner, I infer that, for whatever reason, you were in fact prepared to take on such risks".

The sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public before the 1970s, and it was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light, in the United States and Canada.

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