Australian archbishop faces year in detention for hiding child abuse

Magistrate Robert Stone on Tuesday sentenced Australian Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson (C)--the highest ranking official accused of concealing child abuse- to 12 months detention. Photo by EPA-EFE/Peter Lorimer

July 3 (UPI) — A magistrate sentenced an Australian archbishop to a year in detention Tuesday based on his conviction in May of failing to report decades-old child abuse allegations.

Magistrate Robert Stone sentenced Adelaide’s Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson, 67, to 12 months detention at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, but postponed sentencing details to Aug. 14 so Wilson can be assessed for home detention, ABC News Australia reported.

“There is no remorse or contrition showed by the offender,” Stone said.

“I am of the opinion the sentence should not be suspended. It does not support the terms of general deterrence,” Stone continued. “On that basis, the only available remaining option is full-time imprisonment or home detention.”

According to the Australian news website, Stone said Wilson failed to act because “he wanted to protect the church and its image.”

Wilson was placed on bail. Child sex abuse survivors confronted him following his sentencing, with one anonymous bystander yelling, “Can I spit on him?”

Wilson, the most senior Catholic leader to be convicted related to sex abuse claims in the church, was found guilty on May 22 of concealing child sex abuse.

In particular, Wilson was accused of concealing the abuse of pedophile James Fletcher during the 1970s. Fletcher was convicted in 2004 and died in prison.

In response to the May conviction, Wilson said he would step aside from his duties, but wouldn’t resign.

“If the archbishop does not resign, then the Catholic Church becomes a bigger laughing stock than it already is,” one of Fletcher’s victims, Peter Gogarty told Australian news reporters.


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