Cardinal Pell’s Sexual Abuse Petition Rejected, Sentenced to Six Years

  • "He will continue serving his six-year prison sentence," said the president of the Supreme Court of the Australian state of Victoria, Anne Ferguson, rejecting a series of objections filed by the cardinal's lawyers.
  • According to the judges, Pell could opt for parole within three years and eight months, although the cardinal can also appeal the decision to the Australian Supreme Court.
  • In December, he was found guilty of five charges, including having forced a 13-year-old boy to make fellatio in 1996 and having masturbated by rubbing his genitals against another.

Australian Cardinal George Pell would be compelled to serve his full six-year prison sentence, after a court rejected the appeal to his conviction for sexually abusing minors on Wednesday.

Pell, 78, a former third senior most official in the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic Church, and the former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, had been convicted of sexual assaults on two 13-year-old altar boys at Melbourne Cathedral in the 1990s.

“He will continue serving his six-year prison sentence,” said the president of the Supreme Court of the Australian state of Victoria, Anne Ferguson, rejecting a series of objections filed by the cardinal’s lawyers.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established by the government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2013. The Commission reported that 7% of all Catholic priests in Australia were “alleged perpetrators of child sex abuse;” the children’s average age at the time of the abuse was 11.5 for boys and 10.5 for girls.

Pell, present in court on Wednesday, bowed his head several times while Ferguson read the decision. Outside the building, a crowd of victims, militants, lawyers and journalists celebrated the decision.

According to the judges, Pell could opt for parole within three years and eight months, although the cardinal can also appeal the decision to the Australian Supreme Court.

Pell, who maintains his innocence of the charges, is the highest official of the Catholic Church to be condemned for pedophilia. In December, he was found guilty of five charges, including having forced a 13-year-old boy to make fellatio in 1996, and having masturbated by rubbing his genitals against another.

The cardinal’s lawyers had invoked 13 objections to the first instance ruling, including that it was “physically impossible” that the alleged events had taken place in a crowded cathedral.

They also questioned the times when sexual assaults would have occurred, insisting that they were “impossible” if displacements inside the cathedral are considered.

They also stated that the penalty imposed was questionable, because it was based on the testimony of a single surviving victim. One of Pell’s victims died of a drug overdose in 2014 and never revealed the abuse.

The three judges unanimously rejected the arguments about alleged procedural errors during the Pell trial.

Pell’s lawyers argued that they should have been allowed to show an animated reconstruction of the movement of people in the cathedral when the abuses took place.

After the decision on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Pell would be withdrawn from the Order of Australia.

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service.

Before his fall, Pell experienced a rapid rise in the Catholic Church’s top hierarchy. He was appointed archbishop of Melbourne, later of Sydney and, in 2003, was included in the powerful College of Cardinals, which gave him the possibility to vote in the conclaves in which popes Benedict XVI and Francis were elected.

In 2013, the Argentine pope selected him to be part of the council of nine cardinals (the C9) in charge of helping him reform the Curia. And in 2014, the pontiff appointed him secretary of economy, thus becoming number three of the Holy See.

But during the trial, the Church removed him from most of its high organs without giving explanations. After his conviction, he was dismissed as the secretary of economy and lost his position in C9. The Vatican also opened its independent investigations into the cardinal’s actions.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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