Australia's most senior Catholic figure, Cardinal George Pell, has been sentenced to six years in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
The 77-year-old was convicted in December of five counts of child sexual abuse, including one count of penetration.
Chief Judge Peter Kidd said in his remarks he thought the offending was “arrogant” and “brazen”, but took into account the Cardinal’s “otherwise blameless life” and advanced age.
He also noted Pell was not to be made a “scapegoat” for any of the Catholic Church’s “failings or perceived failings”.
'You're not above the law'
The sentence shows no one is above the law, according to Ballarat-based survivor of child sexual abuse, Andrew Collins.
“I honestly did not think (the sentence) would be that high, I’m quite surprised, really surprised,” he said.
“On one hand, it’s sad to see the downfall of someone who has been so powerful, then I look at it and say it is a deterrent to anyone out there in the church, or in the community, that with child sexual abuse, no one can hide from it now.
“You can be third highest in Catholic Church, and you’re not above the law.”
'I don’t want it to be a distraction'
Another Ballarat-based survivor, Phil Nagle, added it was important to keep all victims in mind.
“It’s only really the victims that can say whether that’s long enough,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be a distraction going forward in Ballarat, caring for survivors and making sure they have the care and support they need (is the focus).
“I feel for the victims and I hope they’re happy with the sentence.”
'A huge step forward'
Stephen Woods, who was also raped by priests, said the sentence was “a huge step forward”.
“The one thing you want, as a survivor, is to feel that it wasn’t your fault,” he explained.
“That’s something we can take from this, that you’re not to blame.
“Sometimes the system works for us.”
Pell has maintained his innocence and his appeal will be heard in June.
If you are struggling and need help
The Centre Against Sexual Assault Ballarat has urged people affected by the news of Cardinal Pell's conviction, or the revelations of child sexual abuse, to seek help if needed.
"We encourage anyone who has been affected by sexual assault to seek support," a spokesperson said,
"At Ballarat CASA we listen, provide support and advocacy in addition to acknowledging your experiences and the impact it may have had on your life."
People can arrange a one-off session, or they can look to have ongoing counselling.
The centre also offers advocacy and case management.
Phone CASA, Sebastopol on 5320 3933, email email@example.com, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
The Blue Knot Foundation, which helps survivors of childhood trauma, has a helpline available from 9am to 5pm on 1300 657 380, or email firstname.lastname@example.org