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Cardinal jailed for abusing choir boys

Cardinal George Pell sentenced to six years for sexual abuse

In Summary

• Cardinal George Pell was until last month the third most senior Catholic in the world.


•In December he was found guilty of molesting two choirboys in the 1990s.

On Wednesday morning Pell stared directly at a judge while he learned his fate - a non-parole period of three years and eight months which means he may die in jail. Pictured: Pell at court on February 26, 2019 for a pre-sentencing hearing
Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of sexual abuse On Wednesday morning Pell stared directly at a judge while he learned his fate - a non-parole period of three years and eight months which means he may die in jail. Pictured: Pell at court on February 26, 2019 for a pre-sentencing hearing
Image: BBC

Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years for sexually abusing two teenage choirboys in the 1990s.  

The 77-year-old was in December found guilty of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne after a Sunday mass.

A former top adviser to Pope Francis, he is the most senior Catholic to be convicted for child sex offences. 

On Wednesday morning Pell stared directly at a judge while he learned his fate - a non-parole period of

In remarks broadcast live around the world from Melbourne County Court, Chief Judge Kidd called Pell's crimes 'breathtakingly arrogant' and said the abuse has caused 'long-term and serious harm.'  

He said Pell's age and lack of offending for 22 years meant he is not a danger to the community and is not likely to re-offend. 

The judge from high blood pressure and congestive heart failure which requires him to have a pacemaker.

But because the disgraced cardinal still denies the abuse and is appealing the conviction, Judge Kidd said he had shown 'no remorse or contrition' which could have reduced the sentence. 

Pell, who was until late February the Vatican's treasurer and once considered a pope in waiting, will be on the sex offender register for the rest of his life.

After the sentence was passed, stony-faced Pell signed some paperwork and bowed before being escorted out of court to jail by five corrections officers.

Some in court embraced while police outside were given three cheers by sex abuse victims.

Pell's surviving victim, who testified and was cross-examined at the trial, issued a statement through his solicitor saying he found it hard to take comfort in the verdict.

'Being a witness in a criminal case has not been easy. I am doing my best to hold myself and my family together,' said the victim.  

Meanwhile, campaigners called the sentence lenient and a 'disgrace'. 

Abuse survivor Michael Advocate said: 'It doesn't send any deterrent, it doesn't give the victims any sense of justice.

Referring to the non-parole period, he added: 'Jail time of less than four years for destroying the lives of two innocent young boys - is their life only worth two years each?'

Mr Advocate said it gave sex abuse victims comfort to know that Pell will be behind bars tonight and added: 'May Pell rot in his cell.'