Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Covering Up Down Under - Catholic Archbishop Convicted

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson

Credit: Darren Pateman/AAP
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse | Newcastle Herald

And another Catholic cleric is convicted of facilitating child abuse by paedophile priests.

This time it is the most senior Catholic cleric world-wide to be convicted of covering up child abuse, Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia. He was convicted earlier today, Australia time, of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse against paedophile priest Father Jim Fletcher, who died in jail in 2006.

The case centred on allegations by Peter Creigh, who waived his right to anonymity and another witness who remained anonymous, victims of Father Jim Fletcher, who alleged that they told Wilson, then a junior priest at St Joseph’s Church, East Maitland, in 1976 that they had been punished and sexually abused for five years by Fletcher. Wilson vigorously denied having any memory of the conversations and under cross-examination, said he thought it doubtful that the conversations had ever taken place.

During the court case it emerged that Wilson and Fletcher had lived together, sharing a house with two other priests and the local bishop in the New South Wales Hunter region. He denied being friends with him. He also denied that Fletcher had been moved to different parishes in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s because of his paedophile activities, claiming it was because he was a 'poor administrator'.

The second witness who was 11 in 1976, claimed he told Wilson of Fletcher's sexual abuses in the confessional but Wilson called him a liar and ordered him to leave the confessional and say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition. Wilson denied any memory of this conversation and denied he would ever call anyone a liar in the confessional.

While the case was in progress, police announced that they were investigating attempt to intimidate the second witness by people claiming to be 'protecting the church' who warned of 'consequences' unless the witness withdrew his allegations. There was no suggestion that Wilson had any involvement in the intimidation.

A third witness was the mother of a victim from Maitland who testified that, on learning that her son had been abused by Fletcher, her family turned to Wilson, who they regarded a family friend, for help and advice. Wilson washed his hands of the matter on the grounds that it was now out of his area and there was nothing he could do.

Wilson, who is suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's, now faces a maximum of two years in prison.

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