Cardinal jailed for child sexual abuse

Live: Catholic Church Cardinal George Pell sentenced for sexual abuse of children

Live stream: Disgraced Cardinal George Pell sentenced in Melbourne

Pell will be placed in protective custody and only interact with "vetted inmates" during mealtimes and exercise because his safety is considered "at risk" due to "his profile and the nature of his crimes", reported Lexology.

The convicted paedophile was given his sentence after a lengthy address from Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who listed out Pell's offences during a verdict that was livestreamed on television and social media.

The longest sentence handed down by Justice Kidd was four years, with part of each of the other four sentences ordered to run on top of that, giving a total custodial sentence of six years.

The cardinal, a household name in Australia with friends that include prime ministers and business magnates, maintains his innocence and will appeal. "It is hard for me, for the time being, to take comfort from this outcome".

In testimony to the commission in March 2016, Pell said that he did not know of the sexual abuse of children in Ballarat by another priest in the 1970s until his conviction in 1993, although the commission had heard testimony from others that the priest's behavior was an open secret in the diocese.

Asked by a reporter outside court after the sentencing whether the case against Pell amounted to a witch hunt, his lawyer Robert Richter gave a rueful smile.

George Pell maintains his innocence, and a two-day appeal hearing against his convictions has been set down for the start of June.

One of the victims died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 having never disclosed the abuse he suffered at the hands of Pell.

The attorney for the dead victim's father, Lisa Flynn, characterized the sentencing of Pell as the beginning of a "battle against the Catholic Church" for sex abuse survivors.

Edward Pentin, Vatican correspondent for the Catholic Register, told Australian newspaper The Age that "most" in the Vatican believe Pell is "innocent, certainly those who worked with him". "Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending", Kidd said.

The judge added that the attack, and another two months later in 1997, when he forced one of the boys up against the wall of a corridor and grabbed his genitals, had a "profound impact" on the lives of his victims.

"Thank you for your interest in this case", he said.

SNAP, a US support group for victim of clergy abuse, described the sentences as "comparatively light".

Pell is the most senior Roman Catholic official to be convicted of sexual offences, bringing a rolling abuse scandal that has dogged the church worldwide for three decades to the heart of both the Vatican and Australian civic life.

According to the BBC, Pell plans to appeal the convictions.

Pell showed no emotion during the sentencing.

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.

More than 150 people crammed into the courtroom, which had been fitted with extra seats to cope with the demand from those who wanted to be there in person to hear how he'd be punished.

The judge has begun his remarks by acknowleding 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.

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