Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Philip Wilson: Ex-archbishop in cover-up to be detained at home

Archbishop Philip Wilson arrives at Newcastle Local Court in Newcastle Australia Archbishop Philip Wilson arrives at Newcastle Local Court in Newcastle Australia
Deanna Wagner | 16 August, 2018, 13:02

Philip Wilson - the former Archbishop of Adelaide - has been spared jail time for the part he played in a clerical abuse cover-up back in the '70s and has been ordered to serve his sentence at home.

Newcastle Court Magistrate Robert Stone allowed Philip Wilson, 67, to serve his detention at home after an assessment by prison authorities due to a range of health issues faced by the former archbishop.

It found that seven per cent of all priests had allegedly abused children and that 62 per cent of victims who reported abuse in a religious institution were from Catholic-managed institutions.

Wilson's lawyer told the court they intend to lodge an appeal application against the cleric's conviction today, but he did not apply for bail and will commence home detention today.

In May, the court found Wilson guilty of failing to alert police to the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the state of New South Wales in the 1970s.

Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse.

He has long denied the charges and initially resisted calls to quit pending an appeal against his conviction.

Wilson is the world's most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of the offence.

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Mr Stone said protecting the Catholic Church was the archbishop's "primary motive".

Stone found that Wilson was unlikely to reoffend, but that a period of detention was necessary to deter others.

He said home detention was an adequate punishment, given Wilson's age, mental and physical conditions and the fact he had previously been of good character.

"Any words for me, Philip?"

Mr Gogarty said Wilson's home detention was too lenient, labelling it a six-month holiday at his sister's home.

Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, center, arrives at Newcastle Local Court, in Newcastle, Australia, after a post-sentence decision, Tuesday, August 14, 2018. On 3 June, Pope Francis appointed the leader of South Australia's only other diocese, Jesuit Bishop Greg O'Kelly of Port Pirie, to the additional role of Apostolic Administrator of Adelaide.

But under mounting pressure from child abuse victims and Catholic priests to resign, and calls from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the Pope to sack him, Wilson offered up his resignation as a "catalyst to heal pain and distress".

Mr Stone sentenced Wilson to 12 months' jail with a six-month non-parole term for failing to report Fletcher's crimes, which he was first told about by Mr Creigh in 1976.