The rise and fall of Archbishop Wilson


The Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of covering up child sexual abuse.

The case

- Key details in the case of Adelaide Archbishop Wilson who has been convicted and sentenced for concealing child sex crimes.


- Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, 67, is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with covering up child sex abuse.


- Wilson was accused of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by paedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region in the 1970s.

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

- One of the victims, Peter Creigh, expected Wilson - an assistant priest at the time - to take action after he told him Fletcher repeatedly abused him when he was 10 in 1971.

- A second victim, who cannot be named, said he was about 11 in 1976 when he went into a confessional box to tell Wilson how Fletcher had abused him.


- Magistrate Robert Stone led the magistrate-only trial at Newcastle Local Court.

- Wilson, who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, said he could not remember the two altar boys telling him in 1976 about the abuse.

- Prosecutor Gareth Harrison claimed Wilson had maintained a "cover-up attitude" since 1976 to protect the church's reputation.

- Defence barrister Stephen Odgers SC argued Wilson was not guilty because the case was circumstantial and there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the archbishop was told about the abuse.

The verdict

- The magistrate found Wilson guilty on May 22 of concealing child sex abuse during the 1970s.

Abuse survivor Daniel Feenan talks to media outside Newcastle Local Court
Abuse survivor Daniel Feenan talks to media outside Newcastle Local Court.

Sentencing submissions:

- Prosecutor Gareth Harrison argued Wilson must be jailed to deter other institutional cover-ups, to denounce the conduct and to recognise the harm done to the victims.

- Defence barrister Ian Temby QC said Wilson may not survive being jailed, which would likely worsen his many chronic illnesses and put him at risk of violence from fellow inmates.


- Wilson was sentenced on July 3 to 12 months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months.

- But he could end up serving his sentence in home detention, rather than jail, after the magistrate ordered he be assessed for an intensive corrections order.

- A final decision is expected on August 14.

Archbishop Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court.
Archbishop Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court.

Time in the church

- Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Edward Wilson, 67

 - Appointed Archbishop in December 2001. Stood down after his conviction in May this year, but has not resigned

- Ordained as a priest in 1975 in Diocese of Maitland (now Maitland-Newcastle) in NSW

 - The conviction relates to his time as an assistant priest in the Maitland diocese - two altar boys told him in 1976 they were abused by paedophile priest James Fletcher

 - Was Bishop of Wollongong 1996-2000.


Source AAP - SBS

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