Australia's Cardinal Pell Faces Sentencing for Abusing Two Choir Boys

13 March, 2019, 15:39 | Author: Carlos George
  • Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children

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

Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell has been told to expect "significant" prison time when he's sentenced in Melbourne's County Court for sexually abusing two teenage boys in 1996.

Chief County Court judge Peter Kidd said in his sentencing that he accepted that prison time will be more onerous for George Pell because of his notoriety and the animosity directed towards him.

Pell, now 77, but 55 at the time of the crime, was convicted of forcing the 13-year-old choirboys to perform oral sex on him in the priests' sacristy of St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he was archbishop.

Media outlets were unable to report the guilty verdict until last month, when a suppression order was lifted after a second trial mounted against Pell - involving allegations stemming from a Ballarat swimming pool in the 1970s - was dropped.

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

What did the court hear previously?

Kidd made clear that Pell was not being made a "scapegoat" for the Catholic Church's failings and that he was being sentenced only for the crimes convicted by the jury.

Pell's surviving victim - who can not be named - welcomed the sentence but said it was hard "to take comfort in this outcome".

The lawyer told Judge Kidd that behind bars, Pell would be considered a "lightning rod" for the sins of the Catholic Church.

He abused one of the boys again in 1997.

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"I am mindful I am sentencing you within a unique context", the chief judge said.

Almost 100 people lined up outside the doors of the courtroom this morning, including media from around the world and protesters.

While sentencing, Kidd said that the boys, one of which committed suicide long before the trial, experienced enormous emotional distress from Pell's actions had "significant and long-lasting impact" on J's life.

One of the victims died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 having never disclosed the abuse he suffered at the hands of Pell.

During his trial, Pell's own lawyer described the burly 1.9 metres tall cardinal as the "Darth Vader" of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Pell's sentencing was shown live on television, reflecting the high level of interest in the case, although only the judge was shown and the broadcast was cut immediately after the sentence was delivered.

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.

Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an "all-out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".

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.

"I don't think six years is long enough", said a victims' advocate outside the court who gave her name as Rhonda.

Pope Francis has established a committee to tackle sexual abuses.

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