It’s a fantastic fall from grace for one of Pope Francis’ top assistants, Cardinal George Pell.
The Australian cardinal will spend his first night behind bars today (Wednesday) following his historic conviction for child sex crimes.

Once among Pope Francis' closest advisers and the most senior Catholic cleric ever found guilty of child sex crimes, Pell returned to court for a pre-sentencing hearing a day after his conviction was made public on Tuesday.

The 77-year-old is facing up to 50 years' jail after being convicted on five counts of sexual and indecent assault of two choirboys in the sacristy of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in 1996-97, shortly after Pell became archbishop of Melbourne.

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Pell, who has lodged an appeal against the verdict, will be sentenced on March 13. His lawyers earlier Wednesday withdrew an application for bail following his conviction, saying the cleric "believes it is appropriate for him to await sentencing".

At Wednesday's hearing, Chief Judge Peter Kidd blasted Pell's behaviour at Saint Patrick's as "callous, brazen offending".

"I think it did involve breach of trust... he exploited two vulnerable young boys. They were entrusted into the care of the church... and the person who stood at the top of that was your client," he said.

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