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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Australian archbishop guilty of covering up pedophilia cases


Archbishop Philip Wilson was accused of silencing the child sexual abuse of Father Jim Fletcher in the New South Wales Hunter Valley in this 1970s. After knowing he was found guilty he said that “I am obviously disappointed at the decision published today”. I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps.”

An Australian court on Tuesday declared the archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, guilty of covering up cases of pedophilia during the 1970s, although the sentence will be announced at a later date. Newcastle court judge Robert Stone considered the archbishop guilty of four cases of cover-up for sexual abuse perpetrated by deceased paedophile priest, James Fletcher. Wilson, who is the highest-ranking Catholic church member in the world accused of a crime of concealment of sexual abuse of minors, faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison, although he may obtain a suspended sentence, according to the local chain ABC.

The main cause against Wilson is for not reporting the abuses committed by Fletcher against a 10-year-old boy, identified as Peter Creigh, in the Hunter Valley region near Newcastle, in 1971, when he became aware of them. During the trial, Judge Stone said that Creigh's testimony seemed credible and true. "I am satisfied, and I believe that Mr. Creigh described the accused, and how he masturbated Mr. Fletcher," the judge said according to ABC. The judge added that he does not admit that Wilson, archbishop of Adelaide since 2001 and charged in 2015, does not remember a conversation he had with Creigh in 1976 when the victim, who was about 15 years old, described the abuse perpetrated by Fletcher.

“The likelihood of two young boys individually telling the accused [Wilson] of acts of sexual misconduct by another priest who the accused knows … are matters I am very confident would be remembered for a very long time,” the magistrate said. And he continued: “You have to ask why the accused did not do what he himself says he would do now [go to the police] in the same situation. The answer I believe relates to the accused having a sense of knowing what he was hearing was a creditable allegation. In addition, the accused wanted to protect the church and its image.”

During the process, the defense argued that the archbishop, who carries a pacemaker and was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, was not in a position to appear before the judge because the disease impacted on his "cognitive functions." His lawyer, Stephen Odgers, argued that the cleric should never have been prosecuted for concealment because at that time the offenses would have been considered "indecent acts" and not crimes. Wilson was accused after a vast police investigation that uncovered several cases of cover-up of former and current clerics of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.