Cardinal Pell behind bars in Australia after child sex conviction

Cardinal Pell behind bars in Australia after child sex conviction”

Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell are working to keep the 77-year-old Australian prelate out of jail pending an appeal of his convictions of sexually abusing minors.

The verdict follows an unprecedented summit at the Vatican on clerical sexual abuse, which ended with a vow by Pope Francis that the Roman Catholic church would bring abusers to justice and would not cover up or underestimate abuse.

Cardinal George Pell has been taken into custody and will spend his first night in a jail cell for sexually abusing two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral.

A bail application had been listed in the Court of Appeal this afternoon but was withdrawn. Pell is due to be sentenced on March 13.

The victim, who has not been identified, claimed that Pell made him perform oral sex on him after catching them sneaking into the priest's sacristy in December, 1996.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said the plaque, which states the dates Pell was Archbishop of Sydney, will remain while his appeal process is completed.

It is expected Pell will be placed in protective custody and will await sentencing before seeking bail.

Pell was returned to court in Melbourne today where the judge heard arguments on a prison sentence.

"Given the age and status (of the victims), it puts them in a position of being vulnerable", Gibson said.

He said he called Pell on Tuesday following the publication of the verdict, but would not go into the contents of the conversation.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Mark Coleridge said the news came as a shock to many but he hoped justice would eventually be served.

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Yesterday, it was revealed Pell was previous year convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996 after the Victorian County Court lifted a suppression order, which prohibited any reporting of the case.

Prosecutors told Wednesday's pre-sentencing hearing that Pell had "shown no remorse" for his actions.

In December previous year, a few days after Pell was found guilty, a photo was posted on social media of the plaque being cordoned and covered with a piece of wood while a guard sat by. "Until the definitive verdict, Cardinal Pell is forbidden, as a precautionary measure, from continuing in his ministry and from having contact with minors in any form".

The verdict wasn't officially disclosed until Tuesday, when Kidd lifted a worldwide suppression order that had failed to stop news spreading over the Internet and into media outlets. "I see this as callus, brazen offending - blatant", Mr Kidd said.

The 88-year-old became the first Roman Catholic prelate in almost 100 years to lose the title of cardinal last July and is the highest profile church figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.

On Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters the conviction was "painful" for many but that the cardinal had proclaimed his innocence and had the right to "defend himself until last level" of judicial process.

"Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character".

Pell was demoted from the Pope's inner circle in December.

He echoed his national apology to victims of child sexual abuse to tell them they were not alone and people believed them.

The sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public before the 1970s, and it was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light, in the U.S. and Canada. I've made many mistakes, we all do.

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