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Charity reacts to cardinal George Pell’s sentencing

Disgraced cardinal George Pell has been jailed for a maximum six years for “brazen” abuse he committed with “venom” on two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell, 77, sat emotionless and unflinching when the sentence was handed down on Wednesday.

He must serve at least three years and eight months in prison before being eligible for release on parole.

Before walking back to the court’s cells, flanked by security, Pell signed paperwork to be registered for life as a sex offender.

A jury convicted him in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997, finding him guilty of five charges.

County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd handed down his sentence in front of a packed courtroom and global television audience.

The courtroom was packed with abuse survivors who have their own interest in the result, beyond that of Pell’s surviving victim, now aged in his 30s.

He was orally raped by Pell in the priest’s sacristy after a Sunday mass in December 1996, forced to watch as Pell molested his 13-year-old friend, and then molested again by Pell a month later.

“It was meticulous and it was considered,” the victim said of the sentence in a statement read by his lawyer outside court.

“I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child.”

The second boy died in 2014.

“Our client is disappointed with the short sentencing and has expressed sadness over what he believes is inadequate for the crime,” a law firm said on behalf of the dead man’s father.

Dr Cathy Kezelman AM – President of the Blue Knot Foundation – National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma said, “Although this is a significant sentence, it is not as much as what we would’ve hoped. It’s profoundly disappointing for survivors whose own lives have been destroyed by the crime of child sexual abuse. It also makes a mockery of the concept of true accountability and is not a sentence commensurate with the crimes committed and the harm reaped.”

“We must remember that victims are sentenced for life. He was not,” she said.

“The Royal Commission showed Australia what needed to happen to stop victim-blaming and hold perpetrators and those complicit in covering up crimes to account. Today, this sentence does not seem to honour those tenets.

“Seeing a senior figure in the Catholic Church, previously one of the Pope’s right hand men, convicted, shows survivors that there is hope, and there can be justice. But the sentence handed down today will be devastating to many. Instead of hope, many will feel despair. It is high time that sentences are informed by the destruction of victims’ lives, regardless of who the accused is.”

With AAP.

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