Bleats

George Pell Is Going To Prison But It’s Never Over For Sexual Assault Survivors

It's hard to imagine anyone being delighted about today's result.

Please note that this story contains discussion of sexual violence against children.

Cardinal George Pell has been formally sentenced for multiple historical sexual offences against children.

In a meticulous ruling from County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd, Pell was sentenced to six years imprisonment with a non parole period of three years and six months, as well as being registered as a sex offender.

That bit is notable since it means he will never be able to leave Australia without being given approval from the authorities. Even getting back to Rome, assuming he’s even well enough to travel, will be challenging.

The sentencing was broadcast live and kudos especially to Network 10 for ensuring that viewers were given information about Lifeline, 1800-RESPECT and other services, as well as warning about the graphic content which the sentencing would contain.

Given the 22 years which have elapsed between the offences and the sentencing, time which saw one of the victims die of an overdose, that sentence might appear lenient. Kidd CJ’s sentencing took Pell’s age and health into account, as well as the effect which incarceration would have on him.

Nonetheless, you’d not be the only person to point out that six years is a lot shorter than the lifetime pain his victims have suffered.

Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President of the Blue Knot Foundation, issued a statement after the verdict which began: “Although this is a significant sentence, it is not as much as what we would’ve hoped. It’s profoundly disappointing for survivors whose own lives have been destroyed by the crime of child sexual abuse… We must remember that victims are sentenced for life. He was not.”

So maybe some context is in order.

First up, let’s state the obvious: the judiciary can only enact the law as it exists. They can’t make up sentences for a bajillion years in defiance of legislation.

It’s also worth noting that the maximum sentence available for the most serious of Pell’s accusations, sexual penetration of a child aged between 10 and 16 years, was 10 years at the time of the offence (it has since been increased to 15).

It should be noted that Victoria has some of the nation’s shortest sentences for sexual offences (which has been a matter of controversy in the past).

For comparison, however, let’s see what you’d get in Victoria for other significant crimes.

Murder: life imprisonment
Rape: 25 years
Armed Robbery: 25 years
Drug Cultivation: 25 years
Aggravated burglary: 25 years
Sexual penetration of a child under ten: 20 years
Sexual penetration of a child under 16: 10 years; 15 if in “a position of supervision or authority” regarding the child
Manslaughter: 20 years
Causing Injury Intentionally: 20 years
Causing Injury Reckless: 15 years
Theft: 10 years
Possession of an unlicensed firearm: up to 7 years

Any of these feel a little off to you? Then the answer is to lobby lawmakers in state parliament, as the courts can only enforce the laws they’re given.

So for those having a hell of a rough day: feel all the feelings, reach out to those around you, and maybe consider what political action might be appropriate once you’re feeling stronger.

If this matter has raised concerns for you, you can call Lifeline on 131114.

So People Are Just Up And Stealing Those Tiny Houses Now Which Gives A Whole New Meaning To Housebreaking

It's a whole new housing crisis.

If you’ve been charmed by the glorious magic of tiny houses – those small things what people build to show how downsized and eco-friendly they are, and which seemed based on the premise that they’ll never own a guitar or gumboots that might need storing  – then be advised that there’s a hot new risk with them:

That someone might drive up and pinch it.

HOUSE CRIME!

The story of how Meghan Panu came back to the tiny home she had all but finished constructing to find only “stray bricks and wooden boards” in place of her life-shed is a gripping read, and is just waiting to be transformed into a movie – from the heist to the internet sleuthing to the cross-country chase to get her pad back.

But it also raised an important question: how secure is a house which anyone with a ute could make off with? Should all tiny homeowners install a GPS tracker in the bathroom just in case?

Thankfully, the story has a happy ending.

But the lesson here is clear: friends don’t let friends make houses that can be ganked with a trailer.

At least chain it to a bike rack or something.

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