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March 15, 2019

Australian Cardinal Convicted of Child Sex Abuse

Scandal in the Catholic Church stretches across the globe as more sexual abuse cases step out of the shadows. In December 2018, the jury found Cardinal George Pell of Australian guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne of 1996. BBC News reports that the verdict was not publicly disclosed until February, spurred by prosecutors’ withdrawal of additional sexual offense charges against Pell.

Behind the Crime

The jury ruled that Pell sexually abused the 13-year-old boys in 1996 in a local cathedral, a crime “permeated by staggering arrogance” according to the judge.

Prosecutors said Pell, a former treasurer for the Vatican, sexually abused the two boys after a mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Pell was the archbishop of Melbourne at that time, and forced the boys into the sexual acts after scolding them for drinking communion wine.

One of the victims testified during the trials; the other victim died in 2014 of a drug overdose.

The releases of hundreds of Catholic clergy members’ names over the past few years has empowered survivors of child sex abuse to name their abusers, working towards healing for themselves and fellow victims. Pell is now one of the many priests finally facing the crimes of their past. The jury convicted the now 77-year-old cardinal of “one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.”

The presiding judge over the trial, Judge Peter Kidd, commented on Pell’s cruelty for his blatant abuse of power. Judge Kidd remarked “You even told your victims to be quiet because they were crying.”

Reports state that Pell remained emotionless when he received his sentence. While the cardinal asserts his innocence and lodged an appeal, he has been jailed for six years.

Verdict Aftermath

Much to the dismay of the last living victim, Pell will be up for parole after three years and eight months. The victim, whose name remains undisclosed, released a statement through his lawyer, stating that “there is no rest for me. Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.”

The appeal won’t start being considered by a court on June 5, 2019. But the turmoil caused by this scandal has rattled the Catholic Church. As a senior member of the Church and a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisors (C9), Pell’s conviction reveals how child sex abuse has poisoned every institutional level of the Catholic Church. Reports even show that allegedly 7% of Catholic priests in Australia have been involved in child sex abuse.

The Church offered no additional support to the cardinal after he was prohibited from public ministry and withdrawn from the Pope’s inner circle in December. However, they still maintained that Pell “had a right to defend himself to the last degree”.


Pell overtly took advantage of a position of authority and honor. But instead employing his respected role for the good of others, he used it to manipulate, molest, and traumatize children. Victims like the boys in this case are the reason why AVA Law Group, Inc. strives to make the crimes of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church heard and seen by the public.

Survivors of child sex abuse should not have to wait over 20 years for justice. Just because a person holds a respected role or title of authority never gives them the right to harm others---they must face the consequences of their crime.

AVA Law Group, Inc. works hard to ensure that survivors voices are heard and their stories are not lost due to inadequate access to the justice system. We want to be your champion, fighting the battle for and alongside of you. Contact us today for your free case evaluation, and start your steps towards justice.

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