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Pell, the most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse, will be sentenced to prison Wednesday in an Australia landmark case that has polarized observers.

Cardinal George Pell was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s, becoming the most senior Catholic official to be jailed for committing sex crimes against children.

Chief County Court judge Peter Kidd said in his sentencing that he accepted that prison time will be more onerous for George Pell because of his notoriety and the animosity directed towards him.

Cardinal Pell, the highest ranking Australian in the Catholic church, was convicted in December of orally raping a 13 year old choir boy and molesting another in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.

Pell was 55 years old and had recently established a compensation plan for Melbourne's victims of clergy abuse when he abused the two boys at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

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.

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Cardinal Pell has maintained his innocence and has filed an appeal to be heard in June.

Huge public interest in the sentence prompted the judge to permit a camera in court to broadcast his remarks live globally.

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"I think you did give thought or reflection to this offending and only reasonable inference from the brazenness of your reoffending is that you had a degree of confidence that the victims would not complain either immediately", Kidd said during sentencing, which was broadcast throughout Australia live from a Melbourne country court.

The Chief Judge told the 77-year-old cleric he could die behind bars. "Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal".

Six years with three year non-parole period.

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The second episode was "brief and spontaneous" but could not be viewed as an "isolated lapse" as Pell had ample time to reflect on his previous abuse of one of the boys, the judge said.

The judge started the proceedings by saying Pell was on trial and not the Catholic Church.

She said Pell's reaction was cold and that seemed uninterested in what she had to say.

"You are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church".

In the decades since, evidence of widespread abuse has emerged globally.

Pell's conviction - which has been criticized by prominent commentators and friends of the Cardinal - came about as a result of a retrial after the first jury was unable to reach a verdict in September.

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The judge took into account the victims' emotional wellbeing and impact on their relationships, culminating in an "immediate" and "profound impact" on their lives.


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