Australia

Archbishop Wilson sentenced to 12 months' detention

The Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court ,Tuesday June 19, 2018. Source: AAP

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been sentenced to 12 months' detention for concealing child sexual abuse.

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been sentenced to 12 months in custody after being found guilty of failing to report to police the historical indecent assault of two altar boys.

Magistrate Robert Stone in Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday sentenced the 67-year-old to 12 months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months.

However, he ordered that Wilson is assessed for home detention which would allow him to serve his sentence in the community. The matter will be heard again on August 14. 

Wilson was found guilty in May of failing to report to police the abuse of two altar boys by a paedophile priest in the 1970s.

He is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse.

The Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court ,Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
The Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court ,Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
AAP

Apostolic Administrator of the Adelaide Archdiocese Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ said in a statement it was "inappropriate" to comment on the case as "proceedings have been adjourned until August 14".

"However, in such circumstances we should be very aware of the impact on survivors, their families and all those who love them. I have witnessed the anguish and grief of victims. The Church must continue all efforts to listen and support them," he said.

"I reiterate that our commitment to the safety of every child in our Church and schools is paramount. The arrangements made by Pope Francis for my care of the Archdiocese as Apostolic Administrator remain in place.”

The sentence comes as abuse survivor Peter Creigh has said he wants Wilson locked up to send a message to religious leaders that institutional cover-ups will no longer be tolerated.

Mr Creigh was repeatedly abused by paedophile priest James Fletcher in the Hunter region during the 1970s. The then-teenager went to Wilson for help, but he did nothing.

Wilson's defence barrister Ian Temby QC told a sentence hearing in June that his client may not survive jail if his diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's and "recurrent falls" worsened amid the risk of violence from other inmates.

He said Wilson had no prior convictions and was a person of previous good character "with particular reference to the general field of prevention of child sexual abuse".

Peter Gogarty, another victim of Fletcher, said Wilson's sentence could open the floodgates around the world and empower more victims to speak up.

"There is much more at stake than just a slap on the wrist or some public embarrassment," he said.

"The deterrent effect of a custodial sentence will mean that children across the globe are safer."

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