Pope Francis' ex-senior adviser Cardinal Pell sentenced

World

13 Mar 2019

Cardinal George Pell gets 6-years in jail for child sex-abuse

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 last year.

Read the details here.

Hearing

Judge described the abuse 'a brazen and forcible sexual attack'

Judge described the abuse 'a brazen and forcible sexual attack'

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.

Statement

Pell's abuse had 'significant, long-lasting impact' on victim's well-being: Judge

"The brazenness of your conduct is indicative of your sense of authority and power in relation to the victims," the chief judge said to Pell.

He said Pell's abuse had a "significant and long-lasting impact" on the well-being of one of his victims, whom he referred to as J.

Pell's other victim, referred to as R, died of a heroin overdose in 2014.

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Pell's other victim, who died in 2014, never reported abuse

Kidd said he didn't have the benefit of a victim impact statement from R, who never reported the abuse. "However on the basis of J's account, I'm able to say your offending must have had an immediate and significant impact on R," he added.

Parole

Cardinal will be eligible for parole after serving minimum 44-months

Cardinal will be eligible for parole after serving minimum 44-months

The chief judge further said, "Whilst it's 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, an Australian prelate of the Catholic Church, will serve a minimum of three years and eight months in jail before he'll be eligible for parole.

Judge imposed shorter non-parole period considering Pell's age

"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," Kidd said.

Response

Survivors of Catholic sex abuse were divided on the sentence

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.

After the sentencing, the surviving victim said it was hard for him "to take comfort in this outcome."

Survivor

'Doing my best to hold myself and my family together'

'Doing my best to hold myself and my family together'

The victim, through his lawyer Vivian Waller, said, "There's no rest for me. I'm doing my best to hold myself and my family together."

Until last month, Pell held the role of Vatican treasurer, considered by many to be the third most senior-position within the Roman Catholic church.

He was managing the church's response to widespread child-abuse by priests when he abused his victims.

Position

Cardinal was Archbishop of Melbourne when he abused the boys

The cardinal was Archbishop of Melbourne when he abused the two 13-year-olds and was managing the Melbourne Response, which he designed himself.

Pell's legal team had announced previously 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.

After suppression-order revoked, media allowed to cover trials, retrials

Kidd had, in February, revoked the suppression order that prevented media from reporting results of the trial and retrial to avoid prejudicing a second trial. The crown prosecutors abandoned the second trial last month after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn't be submitted.

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