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Just after 11am on Wednesday morning, Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
Pell’s sentencing for sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996 was broadcast Australia-wide.
The maximum penalty for Pell’s crimes was 10 years, yet Chief Justice Peter Kidd said this was “not the diminutive factor of my sentence, nor is the maximum penalty the starting point for my sentencing exercise”.
These are the details of his crimes.
This story was originally published on February 26, 2019.
For almost two decades, a man who was sexually assaulted by Cardinal George Pell as a teenager kept the details of one particular day a secret.
He had been a student and choirboy in December 1996 when, after singing at a Sunday mass, he and another student separated from the rest of the group. They found themselves in the priest’s sacristy – a room where priests traditionally prepare for their church service – which was off limits to students.
According to ABC court reporter Emma Younger, who was in court as the prosecution barrister Mark Gibson SC quoted Pell’s victim’s testimony, the boys were having a few swigs of the priest’s sacramental wine when Pell found them.
Pell’s victim recalled, “He… said something like ‘what are you doing in here?’ or ‘you’re in trouble’.”
One of the boys then asked, “Can you let us go? We didn’t do anything”.
But Pell, who had become Archbishop of Melbourne just months earlier, pushed one of the boys towards his penis.
A few minutes later, he did the same to the other boy – forcing him to perform oral sex.
In court, Pell’s victim said, “I put my clothes back on, I corrected myself…” before the two boys left the room.
He was abused by Pell for a second time months later, and described how he was pushed against a corridor and groped.
Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter QC, argued that these allegations were practically impossible, telling the court, “Whether it’s an embellishment of a fantasy that he has come to believe or something else, the story is being made up”.
The prosecution barrister, however, pointed to the level of detail with which Pell’s accuser was able to describe the room.