Australian cardinal Pell sentenced to six years for child sex abuse
MELBOURNE, Australia — The most senior Catholic convicted of child sex abuse was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for molesting two choirboys in an Australian cathedral in a crime the judge said showed “staggering arrogance.”
Cardinal George Pell must serve a minimum of 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole, according to the judge’s order. The five convictions against Pell carried a maximum possible sentence of 10 years each.
“In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance,” Victoria state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd said in handing down the sentence.
Pope Francis’ former finance minister was convicted by a unanimous jury verdict in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and the boy’s 13-year-old friend in the late 1990s, months after Pell became archbishop of Melbourne. A court order had suppressed media reporting the news until last month.
The 77-year-old denies the allegations and will appeal his convictions in the Victoria Court of Appeal on June 5. It was not immediately clear if he will also appeal the sentence.
For the first time in Pell’s many court appearances since he returned to Australia from the Vatican to face abuse charges, Pell wore an open-necked shirt without a cleric’s collar. He was also not wearing a cardinal’s gold ring, which might reflect strict rules on jewelry in the state penal system.
In explaining his sentencing decision, the judge said Pell had led an “otherwise blameless life.” Kidd said he believed given Pell’s age and lack of any other criminal record, the cardinal posed no risk of re-offending.
The judge also took pains to note that he was sentencing Pell for the offe...