Australian archbishop guilty of concealing child sex abuse

By Susan McFarland  |  Updated May 22, 2018 at 8:30 AM
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May 22 (UPI) -- Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide, Australia, was found guilty Tuesday of concealing abuse by another priest more than 40 years ago.

An Australian court in June will sentence the 67-year-old archbishop, who faces up to two years in prison.

Wilson is the most senior Catholic figure to be convicted in connection with sex abuse in the church. Prosecutors said he covered up abuse by priest James Fletcher after he was told about it in 1976 while he worked as an assistant parish priest in New South Wales.

Fletcher was convicted in 2004 on nine counts of child sexual abuse. He died in prison.

Wilson's lawyers had argued he did not know Fletcher abused a boy. The archbishop said said no one has ever reported allegations of child sex abuse to him.

Magistrate Robert Stone said he didn't accept that Wilson couldn't remember a conversation with the 15-year-old victim about the abuse.

Wilson said he was "obviously disappointed" and would consult with his lawyers to decide next steps.

Abuse survivor Peter Gogarty spoke outside the court, saying 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," 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."

Last week, all 34 of the Roman Catholic Church's bishops in Chile submitted their resignations over sex abuse cases.

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