Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years behind bars after being found guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys.
He will be eligible for parole after 3 years and 8 months behind bars and will also be registered as a sex offender for life.
Hundreds, including abuse survivors, packed into the Country Court in Melbourne on Wednesday where Chief Judge Peter Kidd handed down the decision.
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The 77-year-old was found guilty in December of five offences against two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.
One of those victims is now aged in his 30’s while the other died in 2014.
Judge Kidd used some strong words during his sentencing, saying there was a “clear relationship of trust” between him and his victims and he “breached that trust”.
Kidd rejected Pell’s defence argument the crimes were committed by Pell, the man, not the archbishop.
“Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending,” he said.
He is the world’s most senior Catholic to be found guilty of such crimes.
Judge Kidd said there was no evidence of your remorse for him to act upon to reduce the sentence and did admit Pell’s age and seemingly good behaviour since the offending did have an influence over his decision.
“On the one hand I must punish and denounce you for this appalling offending.,” Judge Kidd said.
“Yet on the other hand, I am conscious of the heavy reality that I am about to sentence you, a man of advanced years, who has led an otherwise blameless life, to a significant period of imprisonment, which will account for a good portion of the balance of your life.”
Judge Kidd admitted there is a chance Pell may not live to see the outside world again due to his age and ill health.
“You are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church,” Judge Kidd told Pell in Court.
Pell has denied any wrongdoing and the Court of Appeal will consider a challenge in June.