Vatican child sex abuse scandal: Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years in prison in Australia

The County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd, while delivering the sentence, described Pell's abuse of two choirboys in the sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne as 'a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the victims'

Press Trust of India March 13, 2019 12:45:13 IST
Vatican child sex abuse scandal: Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years in prison in Australia
  • A former senior adviser to Pope Francis, Pell, 77, was found guilty by a jury in December 2018

  • Pell will serve a minimum of three years and eight months in jail before he will be eligible for parole

  • While survivors of Catholic sex abuse were divided on the sentence as some felt it was too light

Melbourne: Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sex abuse to date, has been sentenced to six years in prison by an Australian court for the "callous" assault of two choirboys in the late 1990s. A former senior adviser to Pope Francis, Pell, 77, was found guilty by a jury in December 2018.

The County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd, while delivering the sentence, described Pell's abuse of two choirboys in the sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne as "a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the victims". "There was a clear relationship of trust with the victims and you breached that trust and abused your position to facilitate this offending," the chief judge said. "The brazenness of your conduct is indicative of your sense of authority and power in relation to the victims," he said.

Vatican child sex abuse scandal Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years in prison in Australia

Australia's Cardinal George Pell was convicted of child sexual abuse. AP

The chief judge said Pell's abuse had had a "significant and long-lasting impact" on the wellbeing of one of his victims, whom he referred to as J. The chief judge said he did not have the benefit of a victim impact statement from his other victim, referred to as R, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014 and never reported the abuse. "However on the basis of J's account at trial I am able to say your offending must have had an immediate and significant impact on R," Kidd said. "Whilst it is not possible for me to quantify the harm caused, or articulate precisely how it impacted on R in the long run, I have no doubt that it did in some way."

Pell will serve a minimum of three years and eight months in jail before he will be eligible for parole. "I will impose a shorter non-parole period than I otherwise would have been inclined to impose in recognition in particular of your age, so as to increase the prospect of you living out the last part of your life in the community," the chief judge said.

Outside the court, survivors of Catholic sex abuse who had attended the hearing were divided on the sentence. Some felt it was too light, while others were happy to see justice being done. "I would have been happy with one month, one week," one said. In a statement after the sentencing, the surviving victim said it was hard for him "to take comfort in this outcome." "There is no rest for me," he said through his lawyer, Vivian Waller. "I'm doing my best to hold myself and my family together."

Until February Pell held the role of Vatican treasurer, considered by many to be the third most senior position within the Roman Catholic church. 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. The Court of Appeal is due to hear submissions in early June. Reporting of the trial and verdict was suppressed by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn't be submitted.

Updated Date:

also read

Watch: Mob of kangaroos interrupt football match in Australia
World

Watch: Mob of kangaroos interrupt football match in Australia

The incident took place while a game was on at Greenway Enclosed Oval between local teams Tuggeranong United and Wagga City Wanderers on 15 May

On this day in 2003: West Indies script history against Australia with highest successful chase in Test cricket
First Cricket News

On this day in 2003: West Indies script history against Australia with highest successful chase in Test cricket

On 13 May 2003, in the final Test of the four-match series, West Indies pulled off an incredible comeback against the mighty Australian side to script history.

What changes with Australia's new centre-left government?
World

What changes with Australia's new centre-left government?

Australia's new government promises to call a referendum on changing the constitution to extend indigenous rights as a "priority"