Cardinal George Pell, of Australia, was recently found guilty of the sexual abuse of two 13-year-old choir boys in Melbourne Cathedral in 1996. With the unanimous decision made by the jury in December, 77-year-old Pell was sentenced to six years in prison and is officially the most senior Catholic figure to ever be convicted of these types of sexual offenses against children.
The NY Times reported:
George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday, for molesting two boys after Sunday Massin 1996.
The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
Cardinal Pell, who stood stone-faced with lips pursed when his sentence was read aloud, will not be eligible for parole for three years and eight months.
“I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,” the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: “Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.”
As for the length of the sentence handed down, many think that Pell got off easy, as such offenses usually carry up to a 50-year maximum.
The sentence, falling far short of the 50-year maximum, will be closely scrutinized around the world. The hearing was broadcast live from the courtroom in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, where Cardinal Pell first rose to prominence as an archbishop.
It brings to a close two years of legal jockeying over evidence and accusations of sexual abuse, most of which were kept from public view by Australia’s legal system until recently. And for Catholics all over the world, it amounts to the toppling of a Vatican giant, a cleric of enormous power who will now reside behind bars.
BBC News also stated:
Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Australia.
The former Vatican treasurer is the most senior Catholic figure ever to be found guilty of sexual offences against children.
Pell abused the 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury ruled last year.
The cardinal, 77, maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal.
In sentencing Pell on Wednesday, a judge said the cleric had committed “a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the two victims”.
“Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance,” said Judge Peter Kidd.
In December, a jury unanimously convicted Pell of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.
His conviction has rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope’s closest advisers.
Pell will be eligible for parole after three years and eight months. His appeal will be heard in June.
One of Pell’s victims said it was hard “to take comfort in this outcome” with the cleric’s appeal looming.
Those who were in favor of the verdict, as those that were against, weighed in on Twitter:
Following the sentencing of #cardinalpell, voices from all quarters have spoken out, some hailing the sentence as an important step forward in fighting clerical abuse, others complaining it was too light, & still others insisting they just can’t buy a guilty verdict https://t.co/vMcUV8964G
— Elise Harris (@eharris_it) March 14, 2019
Pell’s surviving victim, as well as the father of the deceased victim, spoke to BBC News:
Pell’s surviving victim – who cannot be named – welcomed the sentence but said it was difficult “to feel the gravity of this moment”.
“There is no rest for me. Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer.
The father of the deceased victim said he was disappointed in the sentence, but was glad to see Pell jailed.
“I watched him walking out of that court and I thought to myself: ‘Well, I’m going to sleep in my bed tonight, where are you sleeping?'” he told reporters.