Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

He also said Cardinal Pell would be registered as a sex offender for life.

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd will sentence Pell in a hearing which began at midday.

Pell was found guilty on December 11 last year on five charges of child sexual offences committed in the 1990s against two 13-year-old choirboys.

Pell went on trial for the offences in December past year and a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts. A court order suppressing media coverage wasn't lifted until last month.

"In recent years there has been the exposure of child sexual abuse within institutional settings, including within the Catholic church", Kidd told Pell.

He plans to appeal his conviction, but is expected to spend time behind bars until the appeals case is heard.

The hearings in the Court of Appeal are scheduled to be heard on June 5 and 6.

Pell is the most senior Catholic worldwide to be convicted for child sex offences and his sentencing was broadcasted live on television, reflecting the high level of interest in the case.

Pell is "entitled to the balanced and steady hand of justice", Kidd told the court, lamenting a "lynch mob mentality" among some of the public.

George Pell has been sentenced to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

The second incident, though less serious in nature, was committed against a boy who had already been abused by Pell, he noted.

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

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The depiction of Pell as a man wronged has infuriated survivors of church sex abuse who say that casting victims as liars and priests as beyond reproach perpetuates a culture that allowed abuse to thrive within the Catholic Church for decades.

But the judge also said that Pell had abused his position of power and had shown no remorse for his crimes.

One of the two victims died in an accident in 2014, while the other, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of struggling to understand what he had experienced as a child.

Kidd said Pell has "effectively reformed".

And in the U.S., a Gallup poll found 37 percent of U.S. Catholics question remaining in the church.

Some described the prosecution as proof the church is no longer above the law, while others suspect Cardinal George Pell has been made a scapegoat for the church's sins.

Judge Peter Kidd cited the cardinal's advanced age and various health issues in considering his sentence.

How will Pell appeal the verdict?

Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an "all-out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the earth".

The cardinal's crimes have drawn widespread condemnation, though he has retained the support of some high-profile figures in Australia.

While awaiting sentencing, prisoners, for the most part, keep their civilian clothes, but now Pell's belongings will be taken and he will be given a green prison tracksuit for the first time.

Campaigner against child sexual abuse, Leonie Sheedy, arrived at the court today hoping for justice.

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