Australian Cardinal Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse Taken to Jail

Australian Cardinal Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse Taken to Jail

Australian Cardinal Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse Taken to Jail

The cardinal is the most senior Catholic figure ever convicted of sexual abuse.

Once one of Pope Francis' closest advisors, Pell is facing up to 25 years in prison for five charges of sexual and indecent assault on two choirboys in 1996-97, and is expected to be remanded in custody after the pre-sentencing submissions in court.

Pell risks a maximum prison term of 50 years for the conviction of the charges that he sexually abused the boys in a cathedral in the 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC told Chief Judge Peter Kidd that Pell's offending involved two vulnerable boys and should be classed as serious.

"Our Judeo-Christian religious tradition allows men and women sexual expression within the bounds of family life, a sexuality which is life-giving", Pell said. "How else did he think he was going to get away with it?" the judge said.

The conviction of such a senior Vatican official has brought the Catholic church's growing sexual abuse crisis, which has also seen scandals in the United States, Chile and Germany, to the heart of the papal administration. All prisoners are strip-searched on arrival and Pell, like all pedophiles, will be kept in protective custody, where he will remain alone for up to 23 hours a day.

Pell's lawyers have appealed his conviction.

"I'm imposing sentence on Cardinal Pell for what he did", Kidd said.

Robert Richter a lawyer for George Pell, leaves as Pell opponents display placards at Melbourne County Court on February 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Pell's lawyers withdrew a bail application scheduled at the Court of Appeal, stating in a release that Pell "believes it is appropriate from him to await sentencing", reported Australian newspaper The Age. "You're a paedophile", "Criminal", "monster", "May you rot in hell", protesters shouted.

Two victim impact statements were presented to the hearing, one from the victim - who can not be named - who testified in Pell's trial and one from the father of the other victim who died in 2014.

There were cries of "you're filth" and "go to hell" as the 77-year-old pushed through the gauntlet of vocal protesters, shepherded by police into the building.

But every new case that comes up-whether mishandled or not- gives more fuel to Catholics and others who are already, and understandably, angry.

In October, Pope Francis removed Cardinal Pell, along with Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, from the "C9" council of cardinals charged with helping the Pope draft a new constitution for the Holy See's governing structure.

During the trial, the court had heard that Pell abused the two boys after catching them swigging from a bottle of sacramental wine.

He said the church's weekend summit which focused on responses to child abuse had been "book ended by the defrocking of (former American cardinal Theodore) McCarrick and Pell being found guilty".

An Australian prelate says the nation's bishops hope that "justice will be served" throughout Australia's legal process, including during Pell's appeal.

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