George Pell sentenced for child sex: victim says hard to take comfort

George Pell sentenced for child sex: victim says hard to take comfort

The Cardinal has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

He also mandated that Pell register as a sex offender, which the latter did in a courtroom bustling with reporters awaiting the sentencing of the most senior prelate of the Catholic Church to be ever found guilty of child sex crimes.

"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance", Kidd said when issuing the sentence, according to The Associated Press.

Women were more likely than men (65% to 51%) to say they have confidence in Pope Francis, but there were "no meaningful differences in the proportions of Catholics questioning their church membership by age or gender", Gallup said.

Judge Kidd told other survivors that Pell would would not wear the blame for their suffering.

Pell will be eligible for parole after 3 years and 8 months.

What did the court hear previously?

Last December, the now 77-year-old was found guilty on five charges relating to the sexual assault of two boys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

During the trial the victim described how Pell had exposed himself to them, fondled their genitals and masturbated and forced one boy to perform an oral sex act on him. He abused one of the boys again in 1997.

One of the two victims died in an accident in 2014, while the other, now in his 30s, brought the allegations to police after years of struggling to understand what he had experienced as a child.

It was the cardinal's second trial, as a jury in an earlier trial had failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

By 2001 when Pell became Archbishop of Sydney, the country's top-ranking Catholic position, he was a polarizing national figure - revered by many conservative Catholics but criticized by liberals for his outspoken views.

Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children

"You are to be punished only for the particular wrongdoing you have been convicted of ... of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s", Kidd said.

The judge said Pell's age was a significant factor in determining his sentence.

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

Pell will appeal the sentence.

Any chance of freedom before then will be pinned to his appeal application, to be heard in Victoria's Court of Appeal in June. However, there is no rest for me.

Some advocates for abuse survivors said they had hoped for a tougher sentence.

What is the wider picture?

Indeed, for a very long time the Catholic Church refused to acknowledge cases of sexual abuse even existed.

Judging decades-old sex abuse charges with no corroborating evidence risks turning the presumption of innocence into a "legal fiction", said Canon lawyer Ed Condon, which obliges jurors to choose "between the word of the accuser and that of the accused".

In February, Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the priesthood for abusing children and adult seminarians.

The Gallup poll was released on March 13, the 6th anniversary of Pope Francis election to the papacy. Last month, Francis held an unprecedented summit of church leaders to address the scandal, but the meeting ended without concrete actions, which disappointed some Catholics.

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