George Pell’s appeal loss sends out a strong signal about child sexual abuse

Photo by Andy Brownbill/AP: A sombre George Pell outside the court

Contributed from Victoria

Cardinal George Pell has lost his appeal and could now face the rest of his life in prison. In March, jurors had found him guilty of five offenses, including sexual penetration of two choir boys in the 1990s.

George Pell loses appeal against child sex abuse convictions

Video by  ABC News (Australia)

In a statement by the Holy See, the highest body in the Catholic Church, the decision of the court was acknowledged and a commitment made to pursue clergy who commit abuse.

Pell is likely to lose his lose his Order Of Australia honour.

Sexual abuse of children has been an ongoing problem within the catholic Church and other religious institutions, and it occurs in other places, where there are powerful individuals supposedly watching over children.

Predators will gravitate to positions of trust and opportunity. This is why it is so important for proper preventative and adequately responsive measures to be in place. There is still a long way to go to achieve this. Hopefully the Pell case has brought this goal closer.

The more we find out about it, the louder the call for action from those in authority. The problem is that there has been reluctance by institutions to comply. The response at the top has been to do everything possible to cover it up. This in turn, has led to loss of reputation.

The fall of George Pell is important. He is the third highest figure on the Catholic Church. His original conviction and appeal loss have sent out a strong signal. Society will no longer tolerate those who use their position to be predators, or to cover up others who are doing it. Pell has been found guilty for both. His high status ensured that this is worldwide news.

Despite the strength of the case against him, former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, along with columnist Andrew Bolt, continued to jump to his defence.  This says a lot about where their heads are at. They have been prepared to dismiss disgraceful behaviour to protect someone in a position of power, especially when this person shares their much of political brand.

There is no excuse fore praying on children, and the chasing down of those who do is not a witch hunt, as these gentlemen would have us believe.

As the evidence began to come out, George Pell’s defenders began to peel away, until he was left with few. This is why he eventually fell. Most people will be happy over this outcome.

Photo by Julian Smith: Supporters of abuse victims celebrate outside the court

He will now remain imprisoned until at least 2022.

Seventy-eight-year old George Pell continues to insist on his innocence and is considering a further appeal to the High Court.  Whether this goes ahead or not, it remains that much more remains to be done to address the claims of victims and clean out this predatory behaviour from institutions.

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