2018-07-03 05:43:02 UTC
the world to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse was
sentenced in an Australian court on Tuesday to 12 months in
Newcastle Magistrate Robert Stone ordered Adelaide Archbishop
Philip Wilson to serve at least 6 months before he is eligible
But Wilson will not immediately go into custody. Stone will
consider on Aug. 14 whether Wilson is suitable for home
detention. He could live with his sister near Newcastle.
Stone in May found the 67-year-old cleric guilty in the
Newcastle Local Court of failing to report to police the
repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James
Fletcher in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney during the
1970s. Wilson faced a potential maximum sentence of two years in
Survivors of abuse who protested against the church outside the
court on Tuesday called on Wilson to resign as archbishop.
The sentencing was another step toward holding the church to
account for a global abuse crisis that has also engulfed Pope
Francis' financial minister, Australian Cardinal George Pell.
Some lawyers said they expect many more clerics to be charged in
Australia as a result of Wilson's test case.
Prosecutor Gareth Harrison last month told the magistrate Wilson
must be jailed to send a message that such institutional cover-
ups will no longer be tolerated.
Defense lawyer Ian Temby told the court that Wilson had several
chronic illnesses and might not survive a prison sentence.
Australian state governments are ramping up pressure on the
church to report child abuse and are legislating to prosecute
priests who maintain that revelations of pedophilia made in the
confessional cannot be disclosed. Wilson did not use the seal of
the confession as an excuse for failing to acting on allegations
against Fletcher. Instead, Wilson testified that he did not
recall ever hearing allegations against his fellow priest.
Fletcher was arrested on unrelated child abuse charges in 2004
and died in prison of a stroke in 2006 while serving an almost
A five-year national inquiry into child abuse recommended in
December that priests be prosecuted for failing to report
evidence of pedophilia heard in the confessional.