Former Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sex abuse to date, has been sentenced to six years in prison for the “callous” assault of two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago.
Pell who was former senior adviser to Pope Francis,was ask to serve a minimum of three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole by Victoria state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd.
On Wednesday, the County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd, while delivering the sentence, described Pell’s attack on the victims was “breathtakingly arrogant” adding that the cardinal had assaulted the boys with “callous indifference to the victims’ distress.” But the judge said Pell was “not to be made a scapegoat for “a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the victims”.any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.”
The chief judge said Pell’s abuse had had a “significant and long-lasting impact” on the wellbeing of one of his victims, whom he referred to as J.
The judge also took pains to note that he was sentencing Pell for the offences on which the cardinal had been convicted — and not for the sins of the Catholic Church.
Pell, 77, was found guilty of one count of sexual penetration of a child and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child last December after a secret five-week trial. Reporting of the trial and verdict was suppressed by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn’t be submitted.
Outside the court, survivors of Catholic sex abuse who had attended the hearing were divided on the sentence. Some felt it was too light, while others were happy to see justice being done. “I would have been happy with one month, one week,”
In a statement after the sentencing, the surviving victim said it was hard for him “to take comfort in this outcome. There is no rest for me,” he said through his lawyer, Vivian Waller. “I’m doing my best to hold myself and my family together.”
Pell’s legal team has previously announced it will appeal his conviction on three grounds, including that the jury’s verdict on all five charges was unreasonable, based on the evidence submitted. The Court of Appeal is due to hear submissions in early June.
Until last month Pell held the role of Vatican treasurer, considered by many to be the third most senior position within the Roman Catholic church.