George Pell sentenced for child sexual abuse

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

Pell is the most senior cleric in the Roman Catholic Church to receive jail time for sexual abuse of a child.

Pell's sentence dismayed abuse survivors and survivors' advocates, several of whom said the penalty was too light for such egregious crimes.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday in the County Court of Victoria after being found guilty of five counts of sexual and indecent assault in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996 and 1997.

Judge Kidd said: "The broadcast of these sentencing remarks therefore does not communicate anything of substance more than they would had I communicated them or delivered them orally in open court and published them in writing".

He faced a maximum sentence of 50 years in jail. A previous trial in September on the same charges ended with a hung jury, with 10 of the 12 supporting acquittal.

State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.

He was convicted of abusing two boys whom he had caught drinking sacramental wine in a rear room of a Melbourne cathedral in late 1996, as hundreds of worshippers were streaming out of Sunday services.

Pell's fate within the church has yet to be decided.

But the judge also said that Pell had abused his position of power and had shown no remorse for his crimes. Pell signed documents that registered him for life as a serious sexual offender before he was led from the dock by four prison officers.

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.

"U.S. Catholics are still mostly confident in Pope Francis, but it could be argued that the 58% expressing confidence in him is somewhat weak given his role as leader of the Catholic church", Gallup said in an analysis of its survey.

Statistics released in 2017 by Australia's Royal Commission into Responses to Institutional Child Sex Abuse stated that 7% of all Catholic priests in the country had abused children over the past six decades.

Pell was not named as an alleged perpetrator at either inquiry.

"The argument of your counsel that this offending was committed by you, George Pell, the man, and not by you, George Pell, the archbishop, must be roundly rejected".

A court order had prohibited media from reporting on the verdict until two weeks ago, when prosecutors abandoned a second trial on charges that Pell had groped two boys in a public swimming pool in the 1970s.

Pell's lawyer Paul Galbally maintains his client's innocence and has lodged an appeal against his conviction, which will be heard on June 5 and 6.

Pell's conviction - which has been criticized by prominent commentators and friends of the Cardinal - came about as a result of a retrial after the first jury was unable to reach a verdict in September.

"None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal", Howard wrote.

The appeal document says that "the verdicts are unreasonable and can not be supported, having regard to the evidence, because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 Crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the complainant alone".

Pell sat emotionless and unflinching as the sentence was handed out.

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