Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was the Number Three of the Vatican, was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison for five crimes of pedophilia, one for oral penetration, against two minors. Judge Peter Kidd of the State Court of Victoria said Pell must serve three years and eight months of the sentence before requesting parole, which he can do as of October 2022.
Pell, direct counselor of Pope Francis, is the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church to be sentenced for child abuse. The events that have been tried occurred in the nineties in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, in Melbourne.
"In my opinion, his behavior was imbued with amazing arrogance," Kidd said. The magistrate added that in the trial "he maintained his innocence, which is his right", but at the same time never showed "remorse or contrition". The religious faced a maximum penalty of 50 years of imprisonment, but the judge argued that He took into account both the age of the cardinal: 77 years, and the "horrible" crimes of which he was accused.
Pell will be registered as a lifelong sex offender. The cardinal, who was already convicted in December, has maintained that he is innocent and has filed an appeal, which will be studied in June.
Judge Kidd remarked in the sentence that the abuse of the two children of the choir, which occurred when he was still dressed in his official religious attire, meant "a blatant and forced sexual assault against the victims." "The acts were sexually graphic, both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during the offense," the magistrate said, insisting that Pell was aware of his actions and did not even react when one of the children asked him to let them go.
The sentence is issued after a jury found Pell guilty in December last year of the five crimes attributed to him, although the verdict was not heard until February 26 after the dismissal of a second case against the head of the Catholic Church for alleged sexual abuse of minors in the 1970s in her hometown, Ballarat. On February 27, the priest was arrested pending his sentence, which was made public this Wednesday.