Australia archbishop becomes most senior cleric convicted of hiding abuse | News | DW | 22.05.2018
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Australia archbishop becomes most senior cleric convicted of hiding abuse

Philip Wilson is the most senior Catholic to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse. An Australian court has found him guilty of covering up the crimes of a pedophile priest in the 1970s.

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, 67, was found guilty on Tuesday of concealing the crimes of a pedophile priest in the 1970s. He will be sentenced in June and will face a maximum jail term of two years.

Wilson denied he knew that priest Jim Fletcher had abused two altar boys.

Read more: All Chilean Catholic bishops offer to resign over sexual abuse scandal

Wilson 'did nothing'

One of the victims told the court he informed Wilson of the abuse five years after it happened. He described being forced to perform fellatio and masturbate Fletcher at the age of 10.

The victim said he trusted that Wilson would take action against Fletcher after revealing the abuse, but Wilson did nothing.

The victim "had no motive or interest to deceive or make up the conversation," Magistrate Robert Stone was quoted as saying by ABC News.

The magistrate said Wilson knew "what he was hearing was a credible allegation, and the accused wanted to protect the church and its reputation," as quoted by the ABC.

Read more: Australia: Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on sexual abuse charges

Watch video 00:50

Senior Catholic cleric charged with sex offences

'Good bloke'

A second former altar boy told the court he was about 11 when he went into the confessional box in 1976 to tell Wilson that Fletcher had abused him.

The second witness said Wilson accused him of telling lies because Fletcher "was a good bloke." He said he was ordered out of the confessional and told to recite 10 Hail Mary prayers as an act of contrition.

Mr Wilson denied ever being told about the abuse. "I don't think I would have forgotten that," Wilson told the court.

Wilson's lawyers reportedly tried to have the case thrown out, arguing his diagnosis of Alzheimer's precluded him from standing trial.

In 2004 Fletcher was found guilty of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in 2006, two years into an eight-year sentence.

Read more: Australian Catholic Church paid $213 million to child sexual abuse victims

aw/gsw (dpa, AP)


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