The story behind the man we couldn't look away from during Pell's sentencing.

-With AAP.

Abuse survivors gathered at Melbourne’s County Court this morning for the sentencing of disgraced Cardinal George Pell for abusing two teenage boys in 1996.

Among them was Michael Advocate, a man in a blue shirt who listened to the judge’s hour-long remarks with his head in his hands.

Chief Judge Peter Kidd sentenced Pell to six years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, three months after he was found guilty of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick’s Cathedral after a Sunday mass.

Listen to Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright & Jessie Stephens unpack the Pell verdict on Mamamia Out Loud… Post continues after audio. 

Advocate, a survivor of child sexual abuse and founder of Victim Group Actions, described the sentence as “pathetic”.

“[I’m] really disappointed,” he told 7 News from outside the court.

“It doesn’t send any deterrent at all. It doesn’t give the victims any sense of justice. You know, less than four years jail time for destroying the lives of two innocent young boys. Is their life only worth two years each?”

“May Pell rot in his cell… But what about appropriate respect for the victims? What about fair justice? … Six years? It’s pathetic.”

Advocate told Studio 10 that every victim got a life time sentence, and he thought Pell’s jail term did not appropriately match his crime.

“I’m a typical victim. I’ve got 41 years to date,” he said.

“My life is just a disaster, every other victim I speak to is a disaster. How much do we have to suffer? How insulted do we have to be before real justice occurs?”

“Every paedophile should get an appropriate jail term reflective of the life time of damage that they cause to their poor, innocent victims. It’s got nothing to do with what Pell has done in his life before or after. He is guilty. He is a monster. He is a criminal paedophile.”


Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican’s treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

Anticipating huge public interest in the sentence, the judge permitted a camera in court to broadcast his remarks live globally.

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.

The other boy died in 2014.

Cathy Kezelman from the trauma recovery-focused Blue Knot Foundation said the sentence represented the personal struggle for justice of many other abuse survivors and the outcome was likely to be emotional and polarising.

For some, any sentence would not be enough while others, still reeling from the verdict, will likely be outraged, she said.

“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.”

Pell, 77, was convicted in December of one charge of sexually penetrating a child and four of committing indecent acts with a child.

Pell maintains his innocence and intends to challenge the conviction in the Court of Appeal, which will be heard in June.

He has already served two weeks behind bars.

For more on this topic:

“He was a different boy”. The family of one of George Pell’s victims share their heartbreak.

George Pell is not what a Catholic looks like.

George Pell’s lawyer said his client’s offence was a ‘vanilla’ sexual abuse case. There is no such thing.

What George Pell’s defenders cannot possibly know about his victim.

The telling words George Pell uttered 16 years ago that shocked members of his own church. 

“He was practically shouting.” Exactly how George Pell tried to ‘prove’ his innocence in court.