Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years jail for child sex crimes

Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years jail for child sex crimes

Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years jail for child sex crimes

First of all, there will be a canonical investigation held by the Vatican into Pell's past, which could lead to his defrocking but will also remind the world how the Church is often forced to play catch-up after civil judges weed out its sex offenders.

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.

Pell went on trial for the offences in December past year and a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts.

Pell was convicted in December, but the verdict was suppressed from being made public in Australia by a court order until February 26 when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.

Judge Kidd rejected a prosecution argument that Pell continues to pose a limited risk of re-offending because he shows no remorse or insight into the offending, given he maintains his innocence.

In emotional scenes, those abused by others joined together in Melbourne to witness the outcome of the sentence hearing. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

The total non-parole period handed down is three years and eight months.

Pell also abused his position by breaching the trust of his victims.

"I think really, the point is, under the systems that work at the moment and the sentencing of other convicted paedophiles, it's a tough sentence", Neil Mitchell said.

A crowd of around 150 people packed inside Melbourne's County Court 3.3 including victim support groups and Pell supporters with dozens more media and protesters with signs outside court.

Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell
Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell

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

He plans to appeal.

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", Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman said in a statement. The other died of a drug overdose in 2014.

Judge Kidd added that Pell should not "be made a scapegoat" for wider failings within the Catholic Church.

The news has come with mixed feelings because although the Catholic Church's former third highest official will go behind bars, people feel it's not enough.

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.

In the decades since, evidence of widespread abuse has emerged globally.

Pell did not take the stand in his defence, but in a video of his police interview in Rome in 2016 he called the allegations against him "deranged falsehood" and "a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish".

The Melbourne court allowed the live broadcast of Kidd reading out his sentencing remarks in a commitment to the principles of "open justice".

Courts must send an unequivocal message to would-be child sexual offenders, the judge said.

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