George Pell Jailed: Australia reacts1:57
Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years behind bars, following the sentence, abuse survivors and Pell supporters reacted to the verdict.
Disappointment among survivors
While some were celebrating Pell’s six-year sentence, abuse survivor Michael Advocate has told reporters outside court that he is "really disappointed”.
“I thought six years was at the very low end of the scale,” he told 7 News. “It doesn’t send any deterrent at all, it doesn’t give the victims any sense of justice.
“Less than four years jail time for destroying the lives of two innocent young boys? Is their life only worth two years each?
While Mr Advocate acknowledged there was some comfort in the fact that Pell had been jailed, saying “may Pell rot in his cell”, he didn’t think it was enough.
“Six years? It’s pathetic.”
PM urges Australians to support survivors
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to support survivors of child sexual abuse ahead of the verdict.
“I would just ask Australians today to get around those who have been victims of child sexual abuse,” Mr Morrison told reporters earlier this morning.
“Let them know we know it happened, that we want to help you be stronger and to survive what is the most abominable you could think that could happen to an individual with a breach of trust.
“For me, it’s about those against who this abuse was directed and acted upon. It’s the most abhorrent thing I can think of.”
Lawyer for the victim says sentencing is ‘overshadowed by appeal’
The victim who gave evidence at the trial, known as J, has released a statement through his lawyer Vivian Waller.
“I respect what the judge said. It was meticulous and it was considered. It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment,” the statement said.
“It is hard for me, for the time being, to take comfort in this outcome.
“I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child. However, there is no rest for me. Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.”
The Court of Appeal will consider whether to allow an appeal to go ahead, on June 5 and 6.
The statement also noted criticism of Pell’s guilty verdict but the victim said he gave evidence for several days and was cross examined by Pell’s defence lawyer.
“A jury has unanimously accepted the truth of my evidence, Pell chose not to give evidence, the jury did not hear from him,” his statement said.
Silence in courtroom as sentence read out
In contrast to the cheers heard outside, www.3nrs3.cn reporter Rohan Smith said there was silence in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down.
Judge Kidd asked Pell to stand up before sentencing him.
“Pell had to haul himself up from the dock by grabbing the bench in front of him,” Smith reported.
“He stood and showed no emotion as his sentence was read out.
“He sat and waited for the sex offender register paperwork to be brought to him for signing. “A barrister explained it to him and he signed it. He bowed to the judge before he was led away and the courtroom was silent.”
After the humiliating procedure, Pell will be on the sex offender register for life and he will also have to supply a forensic sample to police.
There were five charges that Pell was sentenced for. On the first charge he got two years and six months, on the second charge (for sexual penetration) he got four years, Pell got two years and six months for the third charge, 15 months for the fourth charge and 18 months for the fifth charge (for the second incident).
In terms of his jail sentence, the judge said the sentence of four years was the “base sentence” and added a further 12 months for charge one, four months for charge three, two months for charge four and six months for charge five.
“This means that I sentence you to a total effective sentence of six years imprisonment,” the judge said.
Pell must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible to apply for parole.
In summing up his remarks, Judge Kidd noted there was no evidence of remorse or contrition from Pell.
“On the one hand I must punish and denounce you for this appalling offending. Yet on the other hand, I am conscious of the heavy reality that I am about to sentence you, a man of advanced years, who has led an otherwise blameless life, to a significant period of imprisonment, which will account for a good portion of the balance of your life.”
RELATED: How judge decided Pell’s sentence
Pell sentenced to six years
Judge Kidd has sentenced Pell to six years imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
Cheers were heard outside court as the sentence was heard.
www.3nrs3.cn reporter Rohan Smith said Pell stood emotionless in the dock as the sentence was read out. He signed paperwork for the sex offender register and bowed to the judge before being led away.
The negative publicity and stigma is relevant
Judge Kidd acknowledged that the publicity surrounding Pell’s case made the resumption of his earlier life, including his career, impossible.
“I accept the position of your parties and counsel in particular that I should make allowance for these matters in my sentence, and I have done so,” he said.
The judge also accepted that Pell’s situation was “somewhat unique” and the extremely high-profile nature of the case gave rise to security and safety concerns in prison.
However, the judge rejected that the broadcast of the sentencing would have a material impact on the publicity and Pell’s experience in custody.
“These sentencing remarks would, in any event, have always been delivered orally in open court and would have been reported upon by the media without restriction,” he said.
Pell’s age and good character is a factor
Pell is 77 years old and Judge Kidd said his age was a significant factor in his sentencing.
“Of some real importance in my sentencing exercise is the fact that each year you spend in custody will represent a substantial portion of your remaining life expectancy,” he said.
“I am conscious that the term of imprisonment, which I am about to impose upon you, carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison.
“Facing jail at your age in these circumstances must be an awful state of affairs for you. You are also clearly someone with some significant enough health issues.
“I have no doubt that you will experience some stress while in custody. I will make allowance for these matters.”
The judge said he would also take Pell’s character references into account.
“In addition to not having any prior convictions, I am satisfied that the evidence before me is that you are someone who has been, in the last 22 years, since the offending, of otherwise good character.
“I sentence you upon the basis that these episodes, viewed together, constitute isolated offending. I make substantial allowance for your good character and otherwise blameless life.”
It doesn’t even approach “low-end” offending
The judge has noted that Pell’s lawyer described the offending as towards the lower end of the spectrum of seriousness but said he rejected this.
“In my view, it does not even approach the low-end of offending.”
Even though there was no grooming, the judge said he thought Pell had made a “reasoned and deliberate decision” to engage in the first episode of offending.
“You had time to reflect on your behaviour as you offended, yet you failed to desist,” Judge Kidd said.
The judge said the breach of trust and abuse of power made the offending significantly more serious.
“In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance,” he said.
“You were confident your victims would not complain. It is fanciful to suggest that you may not have fully appreciated this.”
Pell breached “trust” and abused his position
The judge says: “In any event, Cardinal Pell, I find beyond reasonable doubt that, on the specific facts of your case, there was a clear relationship of trust with the victims, and you breached that trust and abused your position to facilitate this offending.”
The judge noted one of the victims said the choirboys were expected to show reverence in Pell’s presence.
“The evidence shows that you were profoundly revered, Cardinal Pell, which imbued you with and legitimised your authority,” he said.
“In part, the choirboys were performing to please you as Archbishop.”
He said the breach of trust was “grave”.
Abuse survivors in tears as the judge’s comments are heard
The offending was “breathtakingly arrogant”
The judge said there was a “nasty element” to one of the acts that involved Pell taking one of the boy’s head and placing the penis in close proximity to his head.
“The conduct here must have been particularly confronting and debasing,” he said.
He said additional force was used by Pell to push his penis into the other boy’s mouth.
“There is an added layer of degradation and humiliation that each of your victims must have felt in knowing that their abuse had been witnessed by the other,” he said.
“The offending which the jury has found you have engaged in was, on any view, breathtakingly arrogant.”
A ‘brazen and forcible attack’
Chief Judge Kidd said Pell’s attack was graphic and caused obvious distress to the victims.
Part of the evidence submitted was that Pell told one of the boys to be quiet as he was crying.
“Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending,” the judge said.
“The obvious distress and objections of your victims is relevant to my assessment of the impact of your offending.”
“I must punish you for your offending”
Chief Judge Peter Kidd has begun his remarks by acknowledging that Pell was “one of the most senior figures within the Catholic Church globally” and a “publicly vilified figure” among some sections of the community.
“I am also conscious that I am sentencing at a particular time where in recent years there has been the exposure of child sexual abuse within institutional settings, including within the Catholic Church.”
However, he said he was required to sentence him today in “accordance with the rule of law”.
“As I directed the jury who convicted you in this trail, you are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.
“Most importantly, while I must punish you for your offending, like anyone who falls to be sentenced by our courts, you are entitled to the balanced and steady hand of justice.”
Pell arrives in court
Our reporter Rohan Smith says George Pell has arrived in the courtroom.
He’s sitting at the dock in the back, flanked by five uniformed officers plus additional courthouse security.
He is not wearing the “Roman collar”, a white band that goes around the neck of a priest.
Abuse survivors hope for justice
Campaigner against child sexual abuse, Leonie Sheedy, has arrived at the court and is hoping for justice.
“I hope that justice prevails and that Mr George Pell is treated like every other paedophile and sex offender in this state and he is incarcerated for a sentence that is appropriate to the crime that he committed,” Ms Sheedy told 3AW radio.
Cathy Kezelman from the trauma recovery-focused Blue Knot Foundation says the sentence represents the personal struggle for justice of many other abuse survivors and the outcome is likely to be emotional and polarising.
For some, any sentence won’t be enough while others, still reeling from the verdict, will likely be outraged, she says.
“For too long, hermetically sealed systems of power, such as within the Catholic Church, have called the shots, protecting the church, its hierarchy and themselves,” Dr Kezelman said.
“Hopefully this sentence can herald fundamental change to the church and other institutions, starting with accountable, responsible and transparent leadership, hierarchy and culture.”
Watch Pell’s sentencing live
World’s media gathers outside court
The sentencing doesn’t start for another hour but www.3nrs3.cn reporter Rohan Smith says there are already about 100 people lined up outside the doors of the courtroom. The world’s media has also set up outside, and so have the protesters.
Pell expected to be sentenced to several years jail
There’s speculation that Pell will receive a sentence of several years.
Senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC foreshadowed in a pre-sentence hearing in February that Pell would likely spend “significant time” in prison.
Given his high profile, it could include long periods in lockdown.
Pell was found guilty of five charges: one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four of indecent acts with a child, each carry a 10-year maximum jail sentence.
Herald Sun reporter Shannon Deery explained some of the factors the judge will take into consideration, including that Pell was convicted of five sexual assault charges against minors — the most serious effectively a rape charge.
“Given the ferocity with which he (Pell) has fought the charges, the judge could consider there is no evidence of remorse. Indeed it would be hard to draw any other conclusion. This could see Pell cop a bigger whack than he otherwise would have,” Deery tweeted.
“Crime scene” in Melbourne
Last night as Pell prepared to learn his fate, a projection of the words “crime scene” lit up the gates to St Patrick’s Cathedral where the sexual abuse took place.
Arriving before dawn
Huge crowds are expected at the court today and some victims of abuse in the Catholic Church have reportedly been at the court before dawn. Protesters were also up early setting up signs.
Cameras allowed to broadcast Pell’s sentencing
The disgraced cardinal has had a two-week taste of life behind bars, and on Wednesday he’ll know just how much longer he’ll spend in custody.
Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican’s treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted of child sexual abuse.
Anticipating global interest in the sentence, the court has allowed cameras inside to live broadcast Judge Kidd’s remarks.
Newly-installed as Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell abused the boys after a Sunday mass at the cathedral in December 1996.
The friends, one who died in 2014, had snuck away to drink wine in the priest’s sacristy when they were “caught” by Pell who assaulted them while masturbating himself amid their pleas to be let go.
He pushed one of the boy’s against a wall in a cathedral corridor and molested him again a month later.
In remarks he later apologised for, Pell’s defence barrister Robert Richter QC tried to downplay the conduct as “no more than a plain, vanilla sexual penetration case”.
Judge Kidd rejected the remark, describing Pell’s behaviour as “callous, brazen” and “blatant”.
“It leaves to me only one inference which is at the time he thought he was going to get away with it.” Pell continues to deny all allegations of abuse, and has filed an appeal against his conviction.
RELATED: Pell’s police interview released
Mr Gibson said that was a sign Pell felt no remorse.
Judge Kidd was given medical reports and 10 character references, including from former prime minister John Howard, in support of Pell.
Those attending are unlikely to get a glimpse of Pell outside the dock. Pell previously flagged his intention to seek bail after the sentence is handed down and as his appeal is pending, but no bail matter is listed for Wednesday. The Court of Appeal will consider Pell’s application for leave to appeal on June 5 and 6.
— with AAP
George Pell: Six years behind bars3:55
George Pell has been sentenced to six years behind bars. We take a look back at Pell’s history of denial in relation to sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.