Disgraced Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years for sexually abusing two choirboys as Catholic archbishop in Melbourne during the mid-1990s.
Chief Judge Peter Kidd handed down the sentence on Wednesday morning, after being found guilty in December of sexually abusing the teenagers after a Sunday mass, and assaulting one of them again a couple of months later.
The judge took into account Pell’s age and health, the severity of the crimes, the connection between Pell and the victims and publicity of the case.
He said he imposed a shorter non-parole period, after having considered his sentence could possibly see Pell living out the rest of his life behind bars.
The shorter period would “increase the prospect of you living out the last part of your life in the community.”
“You are one of the most senior figures within the Catholic Church globally. You remain a cardinal of the Catholic Church. You are a figure of significant interest to those of the Catholic faith and to those throughout Australia more generally.”
However, Judge Kidd indicated he breached his position of trust.
“There was a clear relationship of trust with the victims and you breached that trust and abused your position to facilitate this offending,” Judge Kidd said.
“I would characterise these abuses and breaches as grave.”
He also said the power imbalance was stark.
“The brazenness of your conduct is indicative of your sense of authority and power in relation to the victims,” Judge Kidd said.
“Such a state of mind would have been extremely arrogant, but the offending which the jury has found you have engaged in was in any view breathtakingly arrogant.”
He added that the abuse had a severe impact on the surviving victim.
“It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment: the moment when the sentence is handed down, the moment justice is done,” he said in a statement through his lawyer.
“It is hard for me, for the time being to take comfort in this outcome.”
He said he recognised the courts actions in convicting Pell, but the reminder would remain difficult.
“I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child.
“However, there is no rest for me.”
Judge Kidd said in his sentencing that Pell was not responsible for other abuses in the Catholic Church.
“You are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church,” he said.
“Not are you being sentenced for any failure to prevent or report child sexual abuse by other clergy in the Catholic church.”
Despite the sentence, Pell will serve a non-parole period of three years and eight months before being eligible.
He continues to deny that he abused the boys.
His lawyers have lodged an appeal against the conviction which will be heard in June.