Cardinal George Pell has today been sentenced to six years in prison, after being convicted in County court on five counts of child sexual abuse against two Melbourne choir boys.
WATCH THE SENTENCING VIDEO BELOW:
Viewed around Australia as the Pell sentencing was screened live, Chief Judge Peter Kidd said Pell 'was not to be made a scapegoat for the failings of the Catholic Church' in Australia, and emphasised the sentence was only in relation to the charges against him, saying directly to the Archbishop: 'You are entitled to the balanced and steady hand of justice.'
Relating the shocking details of Pell's sexual penetration of one of the boys, the judge described the first incident as 'opportunistic', while a second assault occurred after Pell had 'had time to consider the gravity of the first assault'.
'You exposed your penis, there was time for reflection even at the beginning,' Judge Kidd said in his sentencing remarks. 'You moved from one victim to another... You continued to offend despite your victims' distress.
'I conclude your decision to offend was a reasoned albeit perverted one... You sexually abused two choir boys within that cathedral.'
The judge also described Pell's behaviour as 'breathtakingly arrogant.'
'I consider your moral culpability across both episodes to be high.... There is no evidence of your remorse or contrition.'
The judge also referenced Pell's controversial character references, which describe 'a compassionate and generous person' who had led 'an otherwise blameless life.'
Pell's age was a factor in his sentencing, with the judge noting he is 'entering the last phase' of his life at age 77. 'You may not live to be released from prison.'
Judge Kidd noted the passage of time since Pell's offending in the 1990s indicated he had shown signs of reform.
Pell will now be added to a list of registered sex offenders.
The Archbishop was seen removing his glasses and rubbing his face during the Judge's address, but appeared calm.
With the Pell sentencing creating a media storm, victims' groups and onlookers were out in force outside the court.
In a pre-sentencing hearing, senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson, SC, had suggested Pell will spend ‘significant time’ behind bars, including in secure confinement, away from other prisoners. He has already served two weeks behind bars.
The sentence follows a jury’s finding that the former highest-ranking Australian in the Catholic Church had raped one boy in the 1990s and sexually molested another at St Patrick's Cathedral.
The boys, who cannot be named, were 13 at the time of the incident, and on scholarships at St Kevin's College. One of the boys subsequently committed suicide.
Today’s announcement follows a long period in which the outcome of the case was suppressed from publication. The conviction was made back in 2018, with subsequent legal matters meaning the outcome could not be announced until this year.
Pell still denies the charges lagainst him, with some supporters – including media personality Andrew Bolt – controversially suggesting there may have been a miscarriage of justice.
But many more victims’ advocates have celebrated the outcome, jeering the Cardinal outside court.
‘Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle,’ he wrote. ‘Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.
'At some point we realise that we trusted someone we should have feared and we fear those genuine relationship we should trust.
‘I would like to thank my family near and far for their support of me, and of each other.
‘I am just a regular guy working to support and protect my family as best I can.’
Pell’s fall from grace has been a dramatic one. He was Vatican treasurer and close to Pope Francis. He was Archbishop of Melbourne when he abused the two 13-year-old boys.