Pell's 6-Year Prison Sentence Criticised By Abuse Survivors And Advocates

Cardinal Pell is the most senior member of the Roman Catholic Church ever jailed for such a crime

Cardinal Pell is the most senior member of the Roman Catholic Church ever jailed for such a crime

Pell has also been placed on the child sex offender register for life.

Abuse survivors and the Catholic faithful have converged at St Patrick's Cathedral, where Cardinal George Pell abused two choirboys, to digest news of the six-year prison sentence handed down this morning.

Chief Judge Kidd acknowledged George Pell's sentence would have been lower at the time of offending, but says he needs to take into account the current understandings of the issue of child sex abuse.

Pope Francis' former finance minister was convicted 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.

Reporting of the trial and verdict was suppressed by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn't be submitted.

Pell, 77, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

Pell maintains his innocence and intends to challenge the conviction in the Court of Appeal, which will be heard in June.

"We hope that the sentence imposed on Cardinal George Pell will provide some measure of healing to the living survivor of his abuse and comfort and closure for the family of Pell's non-surviving victim", SNAP said in a statement.

He set a nonparole period of three years and eight months.

The Royal Commission found that seven percent of Australian priests had been accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2011, the average age of their victims was 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

Anticipating global interest in the sentence, the court allowed cameras inside to live broadcast Judge Kidd's remarks.

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A crowd of around 150 people packed inside Melbourne's County Court 3.3 including victim support groups and Pell supporters with dozens more media and protesters with signs outside court.

In an unusual move for local courts, the lengthy sentencing was broadcast live - in what officials said was a commitment to "open justice".

One of the victims has since died of a drug overdose in 2014.

Kidd said as archbishop Pell would have "cast a powerful shadow" and thought he could control the situation if caught.

The judge said he considered Pell's health and age when considering the sentence, his likely experience in jail, as well as his perceived risk of reoffending.

According to the BBC, Pell plans to appeal the convictions.

In the decades since, evidence of widespread abuse has emerged globally.

Several of Pell's other high-profile friends in Australia have leaped to his defense, questioning the jury's verdict and predicting the cardinal would be exonerated on appeal.

Pell did not take the stand in his defense, but in a video of his police interview in Rome in 2016, he called the allegations against him "deranged falsehood" and "a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish".

"I don't think six years is long enough", said a victims' advocate outside the court who gave her name as Rhonda.

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