3 July 2018Hot off the Press
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, 67, has been sentenced to 12 months detention by the Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday.
Archbishop Wilson is the most senior Catholic official to have been convicted of concealing child sexual abuse.
He will serve half of the maximum sentence of two years imprisonment.
The Archbishop was previously found guilty for failing to report to the police the historical indecent assault of two altar boys by the hands of priest Jim Fletcher during the 1970s.
Archbishop Wilson may serve the detention period in home detention, pending the assessment of the home of Mr Wilson’s sister for suitability for home detention ahead of a decision as to where he will be detained next month.
In sentencing the Archbishop, Magistrate Robert Stone said that “there is no remorse or contrition showed by the offender”.
“I am of the opinion the sentence should not be suspended. It does not support the terms of general deterrence,” he said.
“On that basis, the only available remaining option is full-time imprisonment or home detention.”
Peter Creigh, a victim of the abuse inflicted by Jim Fletcher during the 1970s, approached Archbishop Wilson when he was 15 years old and told him about the assault.
Archbishop Wilson, who is currently suffering the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease, claims that he has no memory of the conversation taking place.
The defence for the Archbishop claimed previously that he should be spared jail time due to his age, health concerns, and the possibility that he may be attacked by other inmates.
Peter Gogarty, another victim, said that he was disappointed in the sentence, saying: “My personal view is that … is probably letting him off a little bit too lightly,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that it’s not a custodial sentence.”
The conviction of the Archbishop is another historic moment in a newly-directed focus on the systemic sexual abuse inflicted by religious figures, with the Catholic Church officially signing up in May for a national redress scheme for victims of child sex abuse.