Australia's Cardinal Pell Faces Sentencing for Abusing Two Choir Boys

Cardinal George Pell leaves the County Court in Melbourne Australia on Feb. 26 2019

Cardinal George Pell leaves the County Court in Melbourne Australia on Feb. 26 2019

On Wednesday, Pell's fall was complete as he was sentenced to six years in jail and registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which the judge acknowledged Pell may now spend in jail.

Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in prison for the "brazen" sexual abuse of two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a "grave" abuse of power.

Pell, the most senior Catholic worldwide to be convicted for child sex offenses, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each of the four charges of indecent acts and one charge of sexual penetration on which he was found guilty. A court order had suppressed media reporting the news until last month.

The former Vatican treasurer denies the allegations and will appeal his conviction in June.

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.

Pell's surviving victim - who can not be named - welcomed the sentence but said it was hard "to take comfort in this outcome". "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

The BBC reports that Pell can apply for parole after three years and eight months.

The Royal Commission found that seven percent of Australian priests had been accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2011, the average age of their victims was 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The judge also warned other victims that "this sentence can not be vindication of wrongdoings against you [other victims]".

The courtroom is also expected to be packed with abuse survivors who have their own interest in the result, beyond that of Pell's surviving victim, now aged in his 30s.

Speaking to A Current Affair, she said she spoke to Pell in 1992 and told him about what had happened to her and her sister.

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The second victim died of a heroin overdose a few years ago.

"You are not to be made a scapegoat. for the Catholic church", he said.

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.

Though not shortening his sentence, Judge Kidd said he did impose a shorter non-parole period "in recognition in particular of your age, so as to increase the prospect of your living out the last part of your life in the community".

With global attention on historic abuse within the Catholic church, Kidd however stressed that it was Pell rather than the Vatican that was on trial.

The judge also took pains to note that he was sentencing Pell for the offenses on which the cardinal had been convicted - and not for the sins of the Catholic Church.

Another conservative former prime minister, John Howard, provided a written character reference for Pell in court after his conviction, saying he had known Pell for 30 years.

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.

The sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public before the 1970s, and it was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light, in the United States and Canada.

Pope Francis has established a committee to tackle sexual abuses.

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