Cardinal George Pell Sentenced To Six Years In Prison

13 March, 2019, 15:38 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Cardinal George Pell leaves the County Court in Melbourne Australia on Feb. 26 2019

Pell is the most senior member of the clergy to be convicted of historical child sex abuse and his future inside the church is now far from clear.

The four-year royal commission found in its 2017 report that the Melbourne Archdiocese had ignored or covered up allegations of child abuse by seven priests in a bid to protect the church's reputation and avoid scandal.

The convicted paedophile was given his sentence after a lengthy address from Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who listed out Pell's offences during a verdict that was livestreamed on television and social media.

"Viewed overall, I consider your moral culpability across both episodes to be high".

"It is not for me to second guess the verdict", Justice Kidd also emphasised, just after 10am in Melbourne's County Court.

He plans to appeal his conviction, but is expected to spend time behind bars until the appeals case is heard.

Last December, the now 77-year-old was found guilty on five charges relating to the sexual assault of two boys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

Before announcing his sentencing, Judge Kidd, who said he had chosen to broadcast the sentencing live, laid out an intricate and thorough examination of his reasonings.

"Being a witness in a criminal case has not been easy".

"It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment", the victim, who has not been identified, said through his lawyer Vivian Waller.

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He accused Pell of "callous indifference" to the suffering of the boys, who have not been named.

The most senior Catholic official to be convicted of sexual abuse, Pell took leave in 2016 as economy minister for the Vatican to fight the charges. He faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each charge. "You are not a risk to the community".

Judge Kidd rejected Pell's defence argument the crimes were committed by Pell, the man, not the archbishop. He also probably believed his victims would not complain.

Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter, argued for a light sentence, based on Pell's age, heart problems, no prior history of offending, no physical injuries to the victims and the fact the duration of the offenses was short. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

Going through the crimes in graphic detail, Chief Judge Peter Kidd told the Melbourne court 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.

With global attention on historic abuse within the Catholic church, Kidd however stressed that it was Pell rather than the Vatican that was on trial.

Pell's fate within the church has yet to be decided.

If defrocked, Pell would be the highest profile figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times and only the second Roman Catholic prelate to lose the title of cardinal in almost 100 years.

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

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