Cardinal George Pell Sentenced To Six Years For Sexually Abusing Boys


A Melbourne court has sentenced Cardinal George Pell, a former close ally of Pope Francis, to six years behind bars with a possibility of parole. Pell will have to serve at least three years and eight months in jail before he is eligible for parole.

During a pre-sentencing hearing in February, Pell's lawyers submitted 10 character references for the Cardinal - including from former Prime Minister John Howard and Australian National University vice chancellor Greg Craven.

He added: "Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance".

The judge recognised that sexual abuse can have debilitating impacts on children and the ramifications can be seen later in their development, but said that one victim's death from an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 was not considered to be a direct result of Pell's offending.

Pell sat in the back of the courtroom, surrounded by security officers but uncuffed, as Judge Kidd delivered a detailed explanation of the crimes the cardinal had committed and the reasons for the sentence.

Cardinal George Pell and Barrister Robert Richter.

You remain a cardinal of the Catholic Church.

Pell, 77, was convicted in December of raping a 13-year-old boy and molesting another teen at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996 and 1997.

Australia was rocked last month when news broke that Pell had been convicted of five counts of child sex abuse against the two teenage choirboys during his time as Archbishop of Melbourne.

Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell
Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell

Two victim impact statements, one from the living survivor and another from the second boy's father, were tendered to the court, but neither party wished for them to be read aloud.

Statistics released in 2017 by Australia's Royal Commission into Responses to Institutional Child Sex Abuse stated that 7% of all Catholic priests in the country had abused children over the past six decades.

He faced a maximum sentence of 50 years in jail.

Although Pell must now register as a serious sexual offender, Kidd said he believes the fact Pell has not been convicted of any similar offences in the intervening 22 years is evidence he does not represent a continued threat to the community.

"Given the speculation and outpouring of anger and distress over the conviction, the reaction to sentencing will be likely highly emotionally charged and extremely polarizing", said Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation, a support group for victims of childhood trauma.

In total he was found guilty on five counts - one of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child under 16 years.

Judge Kidd said Pell's abuse was particularly callous because the cleric had been in a position of power.

"Hopefully this sentence can herald fundamental change to the church and other institutions, starting with accountable, responsible and transparent leadership, hierarchy and culture".

Pell maintained his innocence throughout the trial and plans to appeal his conviction.