Archbishop will appeal his conviction, 12 month sentence

Archbishop Philip Wilson says he will appeal his conviction of concealing child sex abuse in the church.

Wilson was sentenced to 12 months’ detention in a magistrate-only trial in a Newcastle, Australia on Tuesday. He will be eligible for parole after six months.

He is the most senior Catholic cleric in the world found guilty of concealing child sex abuse.

Magistrate Robert Stone said in announcing the sentence: “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.

“On that basis, the only available remaining option is full-time imprisonment or home detention.”

Stone has adjourned the details of the sentence until next month while Wilson is assessed for home detention.

The court can request an assessment for home detention after sentencing an offender to a term of imprisonment of no more than 18 months.

The premier of South Australia Steven Marshall, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten are calling for Wilson to resign immediately.

The New South Wales police minister Troy Grant, a former police officer, said the sentence handed to Wilson was appalling.

“This is no deterrent as a sentence. It’s appalling, the children deserve better, the victims deserve better and the community do,” he says.

Wilson says he is innocent of the offending and intends lodging an appeal.

“I do not intend to resign at this time. However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See.”

Lawyers for Wilson, who maintained his innocence throughout the legal process, had argued that he did not know another priest, James Fletcher, had abused a boy.

Two victims say they told him about it in 1976. One was an altar boy who told him inside the confessional.

Fletcher was subsequently found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse. He died in jail in 2006.


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