February 26, 2019
By Melissa Davey
Cardinal Pell is remanded in custody following his conviction for child sexual assault, which judge calls ‘callous, brazen offending’
Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted of child sexual abuse, has been taken in custody following a sentencing hearing in which his lawyer described one of Pell’s offences as a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”.
After the hearing, with Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, having withdrawn his application for bail, the chief judge said: “Take him away, please.” Pell was taken to a maximum security facility where he will be kept in protective custody and remain alone for up to 23 hours a day.
He will be sentenced on 13 March after his conviction for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old boys.
The Vatican on Wednesday also said its doctrinal department will open its own investigation into Pell. “After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters. A former US cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, was this month dismissed from the priesthood following a CDF investigation.
The former Australian prime minister John Howard was among those who provided character references for Pell as the cardinal’s legal team tried to argue for a lower-end sentence in Melbourne’s county court on Wednesday morning.
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