Disgraced Aussie cardinal behind bars for child sex crimes

Cardinal George Pell at County Court in Melbourne. (Reuters pic)

MELBOURNE: Cardinal George Pell was ordered held in custody Wednesday following his historic conviction for child sex crimes, capping an extraordinary fall from grace for one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church.

Prosecutors told a pre-sentencing hearing Wednesday that Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted for child sex abuse, faces a maximum 50 years in prison for five charges of sexual assault against two choirboys at Melbourne’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996-97.

Pell’s lawyers had planned to request a continuation of his bail pending a planned appeal of his conviction, but suddenly withdrew that application on Wednesday. Pell is due to be sentenced on March 13.