Published: Thu, August 16, 2018

Former archbishop avoids jail over sex abuse cover-up

Former archbishop avoids jail over sex abuse cover-up

Final decision: Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will serve his sentence for concealing historical child sex abuse in home detention.

Wilson, who has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's, has launched an appeal against his conviction.

It follows his world-first conviction in May.

There are no other special conditions.

"I hope he enjoys having a holiday in his sister's house", Mr Gogarty told reporters outside Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday.

He did not apply for bail and has been ordered to serve his one-year sentence at home, starting today. He wanted to hold on to the position until he completed his appeal but came under pressure from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and fellow clerics to quit.

The 67-year-old was convicted back in May of failing to disclose details of abuse performed by another priest to police after being informed of it in 1976 by two separate victims. Fletcher died of a stroke in 2006 while serving a prison sentence for child sex abuse. "I'd like to see him show some type of remorse and I'd like to see him apologise", he told local media.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the country's top Catholic body that Wilson once led, had no immediate comment on his sentencing to home detention.

What role, if any, he has in the future is yet to be determined as the church seeks his replacement to head the South Australian Catholic community.


He called Wilson's detention lenient, labelling it a vacation.

Another Fletcher victim Daniel Feenan also criticised Wilson for failing to say sorry.

"This man (Wilson) said two weeks ago that he was resigning because of the hurt to people like me".

Australia's ambassador to the Holy See, Melissa Hitchman, had lobbied the Pope on behalf of Mr Turnbull and the Federal Government, for Wilson to be sacked.

The pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Adelaide remains in place in the hands of the Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Greg O'Kelly, until the Pope appoints a new archbishop.

Wilson knew that priest James Fletcher was sexually abusing altar boys but dismissed their "credible allegations" because of his desire to protect the Church and its reputation, the magistrate-only trial found in May.

"It is clear from his (resignation) statement ... that his focus has been on the pain of others", he said.

"He has made his decision out of concern for the wider issues in the church ... the hurt to victims and the divisions that has occurred and he wants to do what he can to remedy it".

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