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

Philip Wilson leaves court in Newcastle, Australia (14 Aug 2018)Image copyright

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Philip Wilson was convicted in May of concealing child sexual abuse

A former Catholic archbishop will serve a maximum 12-month sentence in home detention for concealing child sexual abuse, an Australian court has ruled.

The decision means Philip Wilson, who resigned as archbishop of Adelaide after his conviction, will avoid jail.

Wilson, 67, is the world’s most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse.

His lawyers said they would lodge an appeal on Tuesday.

A magistrate said Wilson would commence his sentence immediately at a relative’s home, where he would be monitored by a tracking device. He will be eligible for parole after six months.

As he left court on Tuesday, Wilson did not respond to an abuse survivor who confronted him to demand an apology.

‘No remorse or contrition’

During his trial, Wilson denied knowing that paedophile priest James Patrick Fletcher had abused altar boys in the 1970s.

However, the court ruled in May that Wilson had been alerted to the abuse by victims, and failed to report it.

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Peter Gogarty, who has spoken openly about abuse he suffered, demanded an apology from Wilson

Fletcher was convicted of nine child sexual abuse charges in 2004, and died in jail in 2006.

Magistrate Robert Stone said Wilson had stayed silent out of a desire to protect the Church’s reputation.

Last month, he ordered Wilson to be assessed for home detention. Magistrate Stone said the senior clergyman had shown “no remorse or contrition” during the trial.

Confrontation with survivor

On Tuesday one of Fletcher’s victims, Peter Gogarty, approached Wilson to call for an apology.

He remained silent, but one of his supporters confronted Mr Gogarty. “I haven’t got time for rubbish like you, mate,” the supporter said, Australian media reported.

Media caption‘Wilson ignored my story for decades’ – abuse survivor Peter Creigh

Mr Gogarty later told reporters: “We’ve just had another representative of the Catholic Church basically call me dirt.”

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“The archbishop does not have a single, solitary word to say to anybody like me that says ‘sorry for your suffering’.”

Wilson resigned as archbishop last month, days after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for him to be sacked by Pope Francis.

He remains an ordained bishop but has no official role.