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Archbishop guilty of child sex abuse cover up

 

June 2018

The most senior Catholic to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse — Adelaide’s Archbishop Philip Wilson — has been found guilty by a New South Wales court, in a landmark ruling. The 67-year-old was accused of covering up abuse by priest Jim Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region in the 1970s.

During his trial, the archbishop said no one had ever come forward to tell him of allegations of child sex abuse during his 40 years as a clergyman.

However, Magistrate Robert Stone cast that claim aside in a ruling that could have ramifications in courts around the country.

Speaking outside court, abuse survivor Peter Gogarty said the verdict was "one of the most significant days in criminal law in Australian history".

"I think this will now open the doors for other jurisdictions to start looking at trying to prosecute people who deliberately looked after their institution and, literally, threw children to the wolves," Mr Gogarty said.

"On behalf of all of the victims — who have been abused in this country and elsewhere — I just want to say what an enormous relief it is that the people who let this happen are finally being brought to account."

There were gasps from those in the packed courtroom when Magistrate Stone handed down the verdict. People were crying and shaking hands after the hearing.

Victims want jail sentence

The prosecution has requested a custodial sentence for Wilson, for reasons of "deterrence" and "denunciation".

Wilson remains on bail on the condition that he attends his sentencing hearing, which will be held on June 19.

The harshest sentence Magistrate Stone is able to give is two years in prison, and he has the option of suspending the sentence.

 

Greek Tribune

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