Papal advisor George Pell sentenced to 6 years in prison

Posted March 14, 2019

In sentencing Pell on Wednesday, a judge said the cleric had committed "a brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims".

"When he compares what his son and his family and he himself went through, it seems quite a light sentence", said Lisa Flynn, a lawyer at Shine Lawyers, working for the victim's father on a potential civil suit against Pell and the Catholic Church.

The lawyer told Judge Kidd that behind bars, Pell would be considered a "lightning rod" for the sins of the Catholic Church.

Pell abused the 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury ruled last year. Pell was in the conclave that elected him and remains eligible for any potential future conclave until age 80 or unless he is removed. "I utterly condemn this behaviour", he said.

Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell
Disgraced paedophile Cardinal George Pell

Noting that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that survivors were rarely believed, Shorten said, "instead, against the weight and power of both church and the state, they were marginalised, shamed and re-abused".

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". I appreciate the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child.

"Whatever his reasons, his description of a horrific attack on a minor (which Richter was not conceding actually happened) will do nothing to persuade the Australian public of Pell's innocence", noted the Catholic Herald.

"There is an added layer of degradation and humiliation that each of your victims must have felt in knowing that their abuse had been witnessed by the other", said Kidd.

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Senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC foreshadowed in a pre-sentence hearing that Pell would spend "significant time" in prison, including likely long periods in lockdown because of his high profile.

Pell's case is the latest in a string of child sex abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church for decades.

Pell did not take the stand in his defense, but in a video of his police interview in Rome in 2016, he called the allegations against him "deranged falsehood" and "a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish".

The Vatican has opened its own investigation into the allegations against Pell. Pedophiles such as Pell are typically separated from the main prison populations in Australia.

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How will Pell appeal the verdict?

The survivor testified that Pell had walked in on the boys swigging altar wine in a back room after a Sunday Mass.

Trust in the church is somewhat greater, Gallup found, among Catholics who attend Mass weekly or monthly.

"Your decision to offend was a reasoned, albeit perverted, one", the judge said.

Pell also argued the jury relied too heavily on one victim's evidence and that it did not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that the claims are true.

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Pell did not seek to silence the children, Kidd said, because he did not feel it was necessary, and his second transgression carried the mark of "physical aggression and venom".