Australian Associated Press

Cardinal George Pell has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Australia.

The former Vatican treasurer is the most senior Catholic figure ever to be found guilty of sexual offences against children.

Pell abused the 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury ruled last year.

The cardinal, 77, maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal.

In sentencing Pell on Wednesday, a judge said the cleric had committed “a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the two victims”.

“Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance,” said Judge Peter Kidd.

In December, a jury unanimously convicted Pell of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

His conviction has rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope’s closest advisers.

Pell will be eligible for parole after three years and eight months. His appeal will be heard in June.

One of Pell’s victims said it was hard “to take comfort in this outcome” with the cleric’s appeal looming.

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