THE MOST SENIOR Catholic figure to ever be found guilty of sexual offences against children has been jailed for six years.
Former Vatican treasurer George Pell was found guilty of abusing two 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996.
Back in December, a jury unanimously convicted the 77-year-old cardinal of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16, along with four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under the age of 16.
In sentencing Pell on Wednesday, March 13th, Judge Peter Kidd told the cleric he had committed "a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the two victims".
"Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance," he added.
Pell has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, conviction and sentencing. An appeal has already been lodged.
He was convicted based on the testimony of one of the victims, now in his 30s, who recalled how they were abused aged 13 while on a scholarship to Melbourne's prestigious St Kevin's College.
Pell caught the two boys swigging sacramental wine in the priest's sacristy following mass at St Patrick's Cathedral one Sunday in late 1996.
The newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne scolded the boys, before exposing his penis from beneath his ceremonial robes and molesting the pair.
He forced one to perform oral sex on him, jurors were told. The other victim was unable to give evidence as he passed away in 2014.
"You were the archbishop of St Patrick's Cathedral - no less - and you sexually abused two choir boys within that cathedral," Judge Kidd told the County Court of Victoria.
"You even told your victims to be quiet because they were crying."
The Judge said he considered Pell’s advancing years when determining the sentence. Each of the five charges levelled at the Cardinal had carried a maximum 10-year jail term.
Pell will be eligible for parole in three years and eight months. His appeal will take place in June.
The surviving victim of Pell’s abuse, who gave testimony during the trial, admitted it was difficult “to take comfort from this outcome” given that the appeal is still looming.