CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual abuse.

Former prime minister and eyebrow enthusiast John Howard has submitted a character reference for Cardinal George Pell following his conviction over the sexual abuse of two teenage choirboys in 1996.

According to ABC reports, Howard was one of 10 people who offered up the character references submitted by Pell’s lawyer today at Pell’s pre-sentencing hearing at Victoria’s county court. Greg Craven, vice-chancellor and president of the Australian Catholic University, was also named among those who provided a positive reference for Pell. Craven yesterday penned an opinion piece for The Australian in which he claimed that Pell was not given a fair trial and that his conviction represented a failure of the justice system.

The jury’s decision on Pell has been rejected by several prominent conservative figures in Australia, including columnists Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine, Australian Christian Lobby head Lyle Shelton, and Liberal Party MP Craig Kelly.

Reporting from Ten indicates that Howard’s references was written after he became aware that Pell had been convicted.

Pell did not apply for bail and will be spending his first night in jail tonight as he awaits his sentencing hearing in March.

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