Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a “brazen” attack and “grave” abuse of power.
Pell, who has maintained his innocence and plans to appeal, appeared in a Melbourne court after being convicted on five offences including oral rape and molestation of the boys in 1996-1997.The 77-year old — wearing a black shirt but without his usual white clerical collar — sat impassively, hands interlaced on his lap as Judge Peter Kidd graphically described his “breathtakingly arrogant” attacks.
You “may not live to be released from prison” Kidd acknowledged, as he accused the former Vatican number three of “appalling offending” and a “brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims.”
He was ordered to sign the sex offender register and stood as the judge set the minimum sentence Pell would have to serve at three years and eight months, due to Pell’s “otherwise blameless life.”The cardinal faced a maximum 50 years in prison for the five charges.Pell was found guilty of cornering the two boys, who were aged 13 at the time and on scholarships to the prestigious St Kevin’s College, in the sacristy after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in December 1996, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.The boys had “nicked off” from the rest of the choral procession and were taking swigs of sacramental wine before the cardinal found them, opened his robe, exposed his penis and sexually assaulted them.”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.The judge added that the attack, and another two months later, in 1997, when he forced one of the boys up against the wall of a corridor and grabbed his genitals had a “profound impact” on the life of his victims.
One of the victims died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 having never disclosed the abuse he suffered at the hands of Pell.”A small amount of justice has been done today. I don’t think six years is long enough,” said a victims’ advocate outside the court who gave her name as Rhonda.