The Catholic cleric convicted of child sex abuse has been sent to jail on Wednesday and will wait two weeks to respond to his sentence for molesting two choir boys from a Melbourne cathedral two decades ago.
Victorian Judge Peter Kidd, head of the county state court, revoked Cardinal George Pell's bail at the end of a hearing in a crowded courtroom. Kidd said he would fulfill his sentence on 13 in March.
Pell, of 77 years, who could earn 50 years in prison, showed no expression when leaving the courthouse escorted by three court security officers and a prison guard. Pell paused at the door, turned to the judge, and bowed.
He was taken by the van prison to the Melbourne Prison Penitentiary, a maximum security facility where new inmates are assessed for the state penal system. All prisoners are searched during arrival and Pell, like all pedophiles, will be held in pre-trial custody, where he will be alone for up to 23 hours a day.
A jury unanimously condemned Pell in December for abusing the two children of 13 years in a back room of St. Patrick's Cathedral at 1996, weeks after becoming archbishop of Melbourne, Australia's second largest city. But Pell was not detained immediately because he had scheduled surgery to replace both knees.
Pell faced an angry crowd Wednesday when he entered the courthouse, half an hour before his hearing began.
"I hope you burn in hell!" A man shouted as he tried to pass a police barrier trying to protect the cardinal as he entered the courtroom. "You're a pedophile! You're a criminal! You are a monster!".
Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter, received criticism from the audience during the lunch break, prompting Kidd to warn people in the gallery that they could be charged with disrespect of the court for such behavior.
Kidd said such acts directed at Pell and Richter showed that Pell was being blamed for the sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church recently exposed by a government-commissioned investigation into allegations of abuse by Australian institutions.
"The Catholic Church is not on trial ... I'm imposing sentence on Cardinal Pell for what he did," Kidd said.
Source: The Associated Press