Australian cardinal sentenced to prison for child sex abuse

Australian cardinal sentenced to prison for child sex abuse

Australian cardinal sentenced to prison for child sex abuse

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd considered a range of aggravating and mitigating factors in determining George Pell's prison sentence.

The most senior Roman Catholic convicted of child sex abuse will have to serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible for parole, a Victoria state County Court chief judge ruled Wednesday.

Pell was found guilty of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick's Cathedral after a Sunday mass.

Almost 100 people lined up outside the doors of the courtroom this morning, including media from around the world and protesters.

Judge Kidd told other survivors that Pell would would not wear the blame for their suffering.

One of the victims died in 2014.

"The acts were sexually graphic. Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending", he said, adding Pell's behaviour had a "nasty element" to it.

"The obvious distress and objections of your victims is relevant to my assessment of the impact of your offending on (the victims)".

Cathy Kezelman from the trauma recovery-focused Blue Knot Foundation says the sentence represents the personal struggle for justice of many other abuse survivors and the outcome is likely to be emotional and polarising.

"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".

"It was by no means a minor indecent act".

"I conclude that your decision to offend was a reasoned, albeit perverted, one, and I reach that conclusion to the criminal standard".

Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell
Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell

The boys had "nicked off" from the rest of the choral procession and were taking swigs of sacramental wine before the cardinal found them, opened his robe, exposed his penis and sexually assaulted them.

Kidd said as archbishop Pell would have "cast a powerful shadow" and thought he could control the situation if caught.

"The sentence I impose must aim to discourage potential offenders by demonstrating to those offenders the grave consequences of violating such laws".

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

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

The 77-year-old denies the allegations and will appeal his convictions in June.

He has been told to expect "significant" prison time.

"Facing jail at your age in these circumstances must be an terrible state of affairs for you", Kidd said, the Guardian reported.

Sonia has written a book, titled The Girl in the Locker, about their time at the orphanages in which she detailed the horrific sexual abuse, sexual slavery and physical violence they endured as young girls.

After the sentence was handed down, Pell signed paperwork related to his registration as a sex offender, bowed to the judge and then, aided by a walking stick, was escorted out of the court by five corrections officers. Pell had faced a possible maximum sentence of 50 years.

The troubling recollections come ahead of Pell's sentencing on Wednesday.

The cardinal, a household name in Australia with friends that include prime ministers and business magnates, maintains his innocence and will appeal.

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