Australia court jails cardinal for six years — George Pell

Leroy Wright
March 13, 2019

Chief Justice Peter Kidd described Pell's abuse as "breathtakingly arrogant" and rejected much of the mitigating circumstances presented by the defence.

In sentencing Pell on Wednesday, a judge said the cleric had committed "a brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims".

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

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.

"The acts were sexually graphic".

Well known campaigner against clerical sex abuse Chrissie Foster told Neil Mitchell the sentence is "decent". "Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending", he said.

In his ruling, Judge Kidd was careful not to name the two victims, one of whom gave taped evidence against Pell on a video that was seen only by the jury during the trial.

He said Pell's 77-year age was also a "significant factor" because "you may not live to be released from prison".

"Despite this, you still indecently acted against (the boy), and did so with what I consider to be a degree of physical aggression and venom", Judge Kidd said.

"This connection and the depth of the breaches and abuses is self-evident".

Other issues addressed during sentencing included the breach of trust in an institutional setting and the dismissal of any claims that Cardinal Pell's mental functions were impaired at the time of the offences.

Kidd said as archbishop Pell would have "cast a powerful shadow" and thought he could control the situation if caught.

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"For me, it's about those against who this abuse was directed and acted upon".

As he delivered the hugely-anticipated verdict, Chief Judge Peter Kidd said that he made a decision to "impose a shorter non-parole period" than he would have done otherwise while taking into account Pell's age of 77.

"You are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church", he said.

"Nor are you being sentenced for any failure to prevent or report child sexual abuse by other clergy within the Catholic Church".

The most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse is being sentenced to prison today in an Australia landmark case that has polarised observers.

The judge started the proceedings by saying Pell was on trial and not the Catholic Church.

Anticipating global interest in the sentence, the court allowed cameras inside to live broadcast Judge Kidd's remarks.

Cardinal Pell will be registered as a sex offender, with a reporting period for life.

He was convicted of one charge of sexually penetrating a child and four of committing indecent acts with a child. Each charge carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

George Pell maintains his innocence, and a two-day appeal hearing against his convictions has been set down for the start of June.

He has already served two weeks behind bars.

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