Australian cardinal won't fight sentence if he loses appeal in child sex abuse case

George Pell’s lawyers will fight the conviction on three grounds but the application does not include an appeal for the reduction of his sentence

An Australian court spokesman says disgraced Catholic cardinal George Pell will not fight for a reduced jail sentence if he fails in his appeal against his conviction for molesting two choirboys in the 1990s.

The 77-year-old cardinal was the Vatican treasurer and is the seniormost Catholic convicted of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment by a unanimous jury verdict in December on one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child. He must serve at least three years and eight months of the term.

Pell has been in prison since February and will file an appeal against his conviction next month. His lawyer Robert Richter, who filed the application, argued that his conviction should be overturned on three grounds. The application is set down for hearing on June 5 and 6, with three judges to first decide whether he should be granted leave to appeal.

The lawyers are also expected to argue that Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who had awarded the conviction sentence to Pell erred in not allowing them to use a video graphic in their closing arguments, which they said would demonstrate the offending that was alleged would have been impossible.

The third ground details an alleged “fundamental irregularity” in the trial in that Pell was not arraigned and asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty in front of the chosen jury.

However, Andre Awadalla, a spokesman for the Court of Appeal in Victoria state, said on Monday that the application does not include an appeal for the reduction of the length of the sentence.

In sentencing Pell in March, who will turn 78 next month, Judge Kidd acknowledged that there was a real chance that he could die in jail.

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