Australian Cardinal jailed for 6 years for sexually abusing choirboys

Geraldine Edwards
March 15, 2019

Abuse victims and victims' advocates protested the relatively short sentence issued against Pell, but Chief Judge Peter Kidd argued that Pell's age and his "otherwise blameless life" factored into his sentence.

If the conviction is upheld on appeal and Pope Francis decides to defrock him, Pell stands to lose not only his freedom for some time but also the perks he enjoyed as a senior official of the Vatican, namely a home close to Saint Peter's Square and a vehicle and driver.

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.

"There is no rest for me".

"Our Judge Peter Kidd gave an fantastic exploration of how he came to give the sentence today".

"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.

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"There is an added layer of degradation and humiliation that each of your victims must have felt in knowing that their abuse had been witnessed by the other", said Judge Kidd. I appreciate the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

One of Pell's victims said it was hard "to take comfort in this outcome" with the cleric's appeal looming.

Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation, said the sentence "makes a mockery of the concept of true accountability and is not a sentence commensurate with the crimes committed and the harm reaped".

Pell hadn't delivered threats to secure the boys' silence, clearly feeling he didn't need to, the judge said.

"We hope that the sentence imposed on Cardinal George Pell will provide some measure of healing to the living survivor of his abuse and comfort and closure for the family of Pell's non-surviving victim", SNAP said in a statement.

"I commend the young fellow who has come forward", the father said. He has hypertension, congestive heart failure, a pacemaker and osteoarthritis.

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Pell's conviction has polarized Australia, with many hailing his downfall and others saying it is a devastating travesty of justice, reports CruxNow. But with this gargantuan sexual abuse scandal at his hands, Francis must realize that the credibility of his institution has been ruined.

"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.

When the global wave of abuse allegations reached Pell in June 2017, some of the country's most powerful people stood by him, including former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott, himself a devout Catholic, who told a newspaper "the George Pell I have known is a very fine man indeed".

Defence barrister Robert Richter said Pell's time behind bars would be onerous, including time in protective custody and up to 23 hour a day lockdown.

The judge added that the attack, and another two months later in 1997, when he forced one of the boys up against the wall of a corridor and grabbed his genitals, had a "profound impact" on the lives of his victims.

"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".

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