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George Pell returns to court, prosecutors push for 'immediate' jail sentence for child sex abuse

Editors notes: This paedophile enabled hundreds of other paedophiles to sexually abuse children for decades. Only a paedophile protects a paedophile.
Abusers job or title:: Cardinal

George Pell's lawyer has described his crimes as "no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case", but a prosecutor says they were brazen, forceful and humiliating acts, at a court hearing to consider the cardinal's sentence.

In submissions to Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd during a plea hearing, Pell's barrister Robert Richter QC said the offences were "no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not volunteering or actively participating".

But Judge Kidd said he believed it was a "serious example of this kind of offending", and that it was objective fact was that it was a "forcible, blatant attack on two boys".

"I see this as callous, brazen offending … he did have in his mind some sense of impunity," he said.

"He exploited two vulnerable boys and there was an element of force … the way he grabbed the boys' heads, he [continued] in the face of verbal and physical protest.

"There was an element of brutality to this assault, it was an attack.

"I'm not near [considering this] low-end offending, I'm not even near it in my mind," Judge Kidd said.

A sketch of George Pell sitting in the County Court.

PHOTO The court was told Pell's child sex crimes each carried maximum jail terms of 10 years.

ABC NEWS: FAYE PLUMBKA

Lawyer targeted outside court

As he left the court for the lunch break, Mr Richter was jostled by abuse survivors and advocates who shouted "dirty money".

When the hearing reconvened, Judge Kidd addressed the court about the heckling.

"An assault on counsel like Mr Richter is an assault on the court and if anybody is caught doing that … I would view that as raising a really serious example of contempt and I would want to see that person prosecuted," he said.

"This is not a game.

"The system requires defence counsel to defend people."

As Mr Richter left the court at the end of the hearing a bystander asked him if it was "hard defending a rodent".

"No harder than it would be defending you," he replied.

Two victim impact statements were tendered in Tuesday's hearing.

One was from the surviving victim, whose evidence led to Pell's conviction.

The other was from the father of the other victim — a choirboy who died of a heroin overdose five years ago.

Mr Richter objected to the father's statement being tendered, disputing that he was a victim.

But Judge Kidd ruled against him and allowed the statement to be tendered.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC told the judge Pell's offending involved two vulnerable boys and should be classed as serious.

"These acts … were, in our submission, humiliating and degrading towards each boy and gave rise to distress in each boy," he said.

"There has been a breach of trust in this case, in the sense that Cardinal Pell was the driving force and in charge of this cathedral and these two choristers were a cog in the cathedral wheel … in Sunday masses."

Mr Gibson said Pell had displayed a "degree of callous indifference" by continuing his attack on the boys despite their protests.

Reoffending risk is 'slight': prosecution

Pell's conviction relates to two separate events.

In the first, he abused the two choirboys in the priest's sacristy — a room at the rear of the cathedral used by priests to dress — after a Sunday mass in late December 1996.

The second attack occurred months later.

Mr Gibson said Pell pushed one of his victims against a corridor wall and briefly groped him, which made his sex offending, as a whole, more serious.

"It was a brazen contact, it was forceful ... and he had self-evidently reoffended against [his victim] which makes it more serious," Mr Gibson said.

This offending warrants immediate imprisonment," Mr Gibson said.

Mr Gibson also submitted that Pell could be given no discount for showing remorse as he had not taken responsibility for his offending.

He did concede that given Pell's risk of reoffending was "limited or slight" due to his age and the fact the offending had occurred in the 1990s.

Mr Richter argued that Pell had not breached the boys' trust as he had not been entrusted with their care.

But Judge Kidd responded that the boys had been entrusted to the care of the church, "and the person who stood at the top of that was your client".

"It occurred while the children had been entrusted to the church for a church activity and he had access to the boys because of his role at the top of the church," he said.

Mr Richter disputed that, and said the boys were in the care of the adults supervising the choir.

"Nobody who takes their children to the church entrusts their children to the clerics, no matter what their rank is," Mr Richter said.

"He wasn't abusing his position as archbishop, according to the verdict … he's abusing his position as an elder male against two younger children.

"They, as two errant children, put themselves in a place where they shouldn't have been," he said.

Judge Kidd responded that it was completely irrelevant the boys were doing something wrong.

Mr Richter has tendered 10 character references — including from former prime minister John Howard.

Mr Richter said the references showed Pell was a "person of the highest character".

"They speak of a … man who has a great deal of passion … has a great sense of humour, a man who relates to everyone from prime ministers down to street beggars," Mr Richter said.

Another of the references was from Greg Craven, the vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, February 26. 2019.

PHOTO Cardinal George Pell was flanked by police and cameras at yesterday's hearing.

AAP: DAVID CROSLING

Mr Richter said the character references tendered on Pell's behalf were from people who did not believe he could have committed the crimes he had been convicted of.

"Those people love him," he said. "None of them believe him capable of this.

"He comes through these references as a person of the highest character, putting aside the convictions."

Mr Richter said that had they cast the net wider, they could have tendered hundreds of character references on Pell's behalf.

Yesterday, prosecutors announced they were discontinuing Pell's second trial involving an unrelated set of charges, triggering the lifting of a suppression order and allowing the conviction in his first trial to be revealed for the first time.

He was convicted of five offences dating back to 1996.

At yesterday's hearing, Mr Richter said he had lodged an appeal against the conviction on three grounds.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Judge Kidd revoked Pell's bail and he was remanded in custody for the first time.

Pell has maintained his innocence, but it will not stop him being sentenced on March 13.

The court was told Pell's child sex crimes each carried maximum jail terms of 10 years.

Mr Richter yesterday told the court he accepted a sentence of imprisonment was inevitable.

"Goodbye you creep," a woman called out as Pell walked from the dock and into custody accompanied by corrections officers.

Source: https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-27/george-pell-returns-to-court-for-presentencing-hearing/10851152?pfmredir=sm
Abuser Name or Alias:: George Pell
Abusers Organisation:: Catholic Church
Type of Abuse:: Sexual

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