Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse 

  22 May 2018    Read: 924
Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse 

Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson has been found guilty of concealing child sex abuse during the 1970s in the NSW Hunter region.

Magistrate Robert Stone handed down the verdict in Newcastle local court on Tuesday following a magistrate-only trial. He faces a maximum two years in prison.

The clergyman is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged and convicted of the offence.

In a brief statement, Wilson said he would consider the reasons for the magistrate’s ruling.

“I am obviously disappointed at the decision published today,” he said. “I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps.”

Wilson was accused of covering up the abuse of four boys by paedophile priest James Fletcher during the 1970s.

Wilson has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and claimed to have no memory of a 1976 conversation he had with Peter Creigh, one of the alleged victims.

Wilson’s legal team had tried four times to have the case thrown out, including on grounds of his Alzheimer’s, even though he maintained the impairment was not severe enough to stand down from his job.


The defence argued Wilson was not guilty because there was no evidence to prove the archbishop was told about the abuse, believed it was true or remembered being told about it.

Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in January 2006.


Witnesses said they had told Wilson of the abuse but he failed to follow up their complaints. One witness, now in his 50s, said Wilson told him the abuse claims were lies because Fletcher “was a good bloke”.

 


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