Former Vatican Treasurer Pell faces jail sentence for abusing two boys

Cheryl Sanders
March 13, 2019

Pell, who has been in custody since that time, is the most senior Catholic clergyman to be convicted worldwide for child sex offences and was until he took leave in 2016 to fight the case the third-most powerful man in the Vatican and as a Cardinal, Australia's most senior Catholic.

"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance", said Kidd in handing down the sentence after Pell was convicted of five charges of sexually abusing two children.

Sentencing Pell on Wednesday, Victorian County Court Judge Peter Kidd labelled the cardinal's moral culpability as high as he outlined his two attacks on the boys over a month apart.

Pell's fall from grace began in 2015, when a former choir boy at Melbourne's St Patrick's cathedral reached out to police alleging sexual abuse by then archbishop of Melbourne in late 1996 and 1997.

Pell maintained his innocence throughout the trial and plans to appeal his conviction.

"Being a witness in a criminal case has not been easy".

"It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment, the moment when the sentence is handed down, the moment when justice is done", the statement from the man said.

Cardinal Pell was found guilty on four charges of indecent acts and one of sexual penetration.

Cardinal George Pell will spend a minimum of three years and eight months in jail for child sexual abuse.

As he delivered the hugely-anticipated verdict, Chief Judge Peter Kidd said that he made a decision to "impose a shorter non-parole period" than he would have done otherwise while taking into account Pell's age of 77.

The victim, identified by sentencing judge Peter Kidd only as J, told the court that Pell exposed himself to the boys, forced J to perform oral sex, and on a separate occasion, grabbed his genitals following a Sunday mass.

Each charge carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

During his trial, Pell's own lawyer described the burly 1.9 meters (6 foot and 3 inches) tall cardinal as the "Darth Vader" of the Catholic Church.

"The acts were sexually graphic, both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during the offending", he said.

In February, the Vatican hosted an anti-child abuse conference in which Pope Francis declared an "all-out battle" against the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

"The obvious distress and objections of your victims is relevant to my assessment of the impact of your offending on (the victims)".

"You are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church", he said.

"I am mindful I am sentencing you within a unique context", the chief judge said.

Anticipating huge public interest in the sentence, the judge will permit a camera in court to broadcast his remarks live globally.

Media outlets were unable to report the guilty verdict until last month, when a suppression order was lifted after a second trial mounted against Pell - involving allegations stemming from a Ballarat swimming pool in the 1970s - was dropped.

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