Pell victim says 'hard to take comfort' from sentencing

Australian cardinal sentenced 6 years for child abuse

Cardinal Pell will be registered as a sex offender, with a reporting period for life.

Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Australia.

The man who was once Australia's most powerful Catholic sat in the dock dressed in a suit without a clerical collar, as County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd carried out the sentencing.

Pope Francis' former finance minister was convicted in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and the boy's 13-year-old friend in the late 1990s.

Pell went on trial for the offences in December previous year and a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts.

Last month, the Vatican described Pell's conviction as "painful news" that had "shocked many", and said he was prohibited from public ministry.

"I am also conscious that I am sentencing at a particular time where in recent years there has been the exposure of child sexual abuse within institutional settings, including within the Catholic Church".

Pell maintains his innocence and his appeal against the verdict will be heard in June.

In a rare move reflecting interest in the high-profile case, the sentencing will be broadcast live on television although the camera will only show the judge and not the court room.

He becomes the most high ranking official to be convicted of abusing children.

Judge Kidd said by his offending in such a "risky and brazen" manner, it was inferred Pell was prepared to take such risks.

He said Pell's 77-year age was also a "significant factor" because "you may not live to be released from prison". "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

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Pell also argued the jury relied too heavily on one victim's evidence and that it did not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that the claims are true.

"I do so without hesitation", Kidd said, noting that Pell was a figure of authority.

A crowd of around 150 people packed inside Melbourne's County Court 3.3 including victim support groups and Pell supporters with dozens more media and protesters with signs outside court.

The second victim died of a heroin overdose a few years ago.

He added Pell could not be made a scapegoat for the church's failings, nor for the trauma inflicted on other victims by other abusive priests.

And in the U.S., a Gallup poll found 37 percent of U.S. Catholics question remaining in the church.

She said Pell's reaction was cold and that seemed uninterested in what she had to say.

With global attention on historic abuse within the Catholic church, Kidd however stressed that it was Pell rather than the Vatican that was on trial.

The judge took into account the victims' emotional wellbeing and impact on their relationships, culminating in an "immediate" and "profound impact" on their lives.

In an unusual step the sentencing is being broadcast.

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.

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