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Senior Vatican Official Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Child Sex Abuse

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sex abuse to date, has been sentenced to six years in prison for the “callous” assault of two choirboys in the late 1990s, several news outlets reported Tuesday.

Pell, a former senior adviser to Pope Francis, showed no reaction when Chief Judge Peter Kidd handed down his sentence in a hearing broadcast live worldwide on Wednesday from Victoria’s County Court in central Melbourne, Australia.

The 77-year-old priest was found guilty of sexual penetration of a child and several counts of committing an indecent act with a child last December after a secret five-week trial.

Judge Kidd addressed the current climate of anger with the Catholic Church at Pell’s February hearing when he said, “The Catholic Church is not on trial and I’m not imposing a sentence on the Catholic Church. I’m imposing a sentence on Cardinal Pell for what he did.”

As Judge Kidd handed down his sentence Wednesday, no sounds could be heard in the court.

The judge sent Pell to jail with the words: “Can Cardinal Pell be taken away please?

Reporting of the trial and verdict was suppressed by the court to avoid prejudicing a second trial, which crown prosecutors abandoned in February after the judge ruled some prosecution evidence couldn’t be submitted.

Statistics released in 2017 by Australia’s Royal Commission into Responses to Institutional Child Sex Abuse stated that 7% of all Catholic priests in the country had abused children over the past six decades.

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