Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will be sentenced on Tuesday evening after his conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s, with the judge expected to impose a prison term on the Catholic cardinal.
In a rare move reflecting interest in the high-profile case, the sentencing will be broadcast live on television although the camera will only show the judge and not the courtroom.
Pell, the most senior Catholic worldwide to be convicted for child sex offences, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each of the four charges of indecent acts and one charge of sexual penetration on which he was found guilty.
Pell has maintained his innocence throughout and has filed an appeal on three grounds, set to be heard in June. He has been in jail since Feb. 27, when his bail was revoked after a sentence plea hearing.
Reaction to be ‘highly emotionally charged’
The County Court of Victoria had come under fire for suppressing coverage of Pell’s trial, as he is seen as the face of the Catholic Church in Australia which has protected pedophile priests.
“Given the speculation and outpouring of anger and distress over the conviction, the reaction to sentencing will be likely highly emotionally charged and extremely polarizing,” said Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation, a support group for victims of childhood trauma.
Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, argued for a light sentence, based on Pell’s age, heart problems, no prior history of offending, no physical injuries to the victims and the fact the duration of the offences was short.
Lawyer sparked furore calling offence ‘vanilla’
Richter sparked a furore when, in seeking a light sentence, he called the offence “a plain vanilla sexual penetration case,” remarks for which he later apologized.
“It was imbued with arrogance, aggression and impunity,” Kidd told the court.
The court said Kidd’s sentencing would be aired live by the Australian Broadcasting Corp at 7 p.m. ET.
“The County Court is committed to the principles of open justice,” a spokesman said.
This story originally appeared on CBC