Cardinal jailed for choirboy abuse
Australian Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday for the brazen sexual abuse of two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a grave abuse of power.
The former Vatican No 3 – who managed church finances and helped elect two popes – was sentenced in a Melbourne court on five counts, including oral rape and molestation of boys in 1996 and 1997.
In remarks broadcast on TV, judge Peter Kidd said Pell was guilty of breathtakingly arrogant attacks and took advantage of his position of authority over the boys, then aged 13.
Kidd said the cardinal, with his significant history of cardiac problems, would be eligible for parole in late 2022, but acknowledged he might not live to be released from prison.
Pell, 77, sat impassively, as Kidd described his sexual attacks on the two victims.
He stood as the sentence was set by Kidd, who cited Pell’s otherwise blameless life.
“You have effectively reformed,” the judge said, noting the 22 years since the abuse.
Pell signed the sex offenders’ register before leaving the court in handcuffs for an undetermined facility.
A household name in Australia, with ministers and business magnates as friends, the cardinal maintains his innocence and will appeal.
The prospect of further legal proceedings and the relatively short sentence tempered victims’ response to the news.
“There is no rest for me,” the victim named only as “J” said in a statement, read by his lawyer.
“I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child, but it is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal,” he said.
The father of the other victim, who died of a drug overdose in 2014, said the sentence was disappointing.