Australia’s Cardinal Pell gets 6 years prison for sexual assault

Melbourne: Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal Pell, convicted of sexually assaulting choirboys in the late 1990s, was sentenced to six years in jail on Wednesday.

According to CNN, Cardinal Pell was found guilty by an Australian court of one count of sexual abuse of a child and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child last December after a secret five-week trial.

Terming Pell’s attack on the victims as “breathtakingly arrogant”, Judge Kidd said that the Vatican official had assaulted the boys with “callous indifference to the victims’ distress.”

However, the judge did not fail to assert that Pell was “not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.”

Pell, the senior most Catholic to be found guilty of child sexual abuse, was convicted on the basis of a complaint filed by a man who claimed that Pell sexually abused him and another boy in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral after Sunday mass.

During the proceedings of the court, the prosecution informed the jury that the victims, who were choirboys at the time, were caught by Pell drinking sacramental wine.

Miffed by this, Pell allegedly forced one of the boys to “perform oral sex on him and performed an indecent act on his friend.” A month later, the victim said Pell “pushed him up against a wall and groped his genitals.”

Earlier, Cardinal’s legal team had announced that it will appeal his conviction on three grounds, including that the jury’s verdict on all five charges was unreasonable, based on the evidence submitted. The Court of Appeal is due to hear submissions in early June.