SYDNEY (Reuters) – For two decades, George Pell was the dominant figure in the Catholic Church in Australia – a boy from a gold mining town whose ambition, intellect and knack for befriending influential people propelled him to become the third-most senior official in the Vatican.
That came crashing down in December, when a court found Pell, 77, guilty of five charges of child sex offences committed on two 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne.
Wednesday - Pell - Fall - Years - Jail
On Wednesday, Pell’s fall was complete as he was sentenced to six years in jail and registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which the judge acknowledged Pell may now spend in jail.
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.
Status - Archbishop - Shadow - Offending - County
“Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending,” County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said of Pell during the sentencing, where he described Pell’s crimes as “brazen” and grave”.
Pell maintains his innocence and his appeal against the verdict will be heard in June.
Pell - Custody - Weeks - Years - Prison
Pell, who has been held in custody for the past two weeks, now faces years in a Victorian prison, a far cry from the apartment where he lived in Piazza Citta Leonina, a small square just across the street from the Vatican’s St. Ann’s Gate.
Pell spent most of his first three decades as a priest in Ballarat, an old gold mining town in the state of Victoria, about 120 km (75 miles) from Melbourne.
State - Inquiries - Catholic - Cases - Abuse
State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.
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