Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has avoided jail time, despite being found guilty of covering up child sex abuse by a paedophile priest in the 1970s.
The 67-year-old was found guilty of concealing the repeated sexual abuse of two altar boys by paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in May, and, in July, received a 12 month prison sentence, which was delayed pending an assessment for home detention.
However, following a hearing on Tuesday, the Bishop has now been granted permission to carry out his sentence at home, rather than spending time in prison, reports 7 News. The decision was handed down by magistrate Robert Stone in Newcastle Local Court.
He will be eligible for parole in six months and has been ordered to wear a tracking device when appropriate.
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to serve his 12 month sentence as home detention. Eligible for parole in 6 months. Will wear a tracking device when appropriate and serve as he fights appeal. The latest in 7 News at 4pm and 6pm. https://t.co/bEjEfFzSxj #7News pic.twitter.com/FnxbFzTJFO
— 7 News Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) August 14, 2018
Peter Criegh (also known as Peter Gogarty) confided in Wilson after he was assaulted by Fletcher when he was just 15-years-old, however, the Archbishop kept this under wraps and did not take the matter to police.
Despite denying that he knew of the abuse, Wilson was charged with, and found guilty of, covering up the crimes in a bid to protect the church’s reputation.
Wilson stepped down as Archbishop in July following mounting pressure, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, along with other top pollies, calling for the religious leader to give up his position.
In a statement issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on July 30, president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Pope had accepted the resignation.
“While the judicial process will continue, Archbishop Wilson’s resignation is the next chapter in a heartbreaking story of people who were sexually abused at the hands of Jim Fletcher and whose lives were forever changed,” the statement read. “This decision may bring some comfort to them despite the ongoing pain they bear.”
However there was outrage among the public after it was revealed that he will remain a Catholic Bishop despite his conviction. The news that Wilson will retain the title was confirmed by Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide Bishop Greg O’Kelly during a press conference on Tuesday. Bishop Kelly said: “He’ll have no authority, no governance in the church. He remains a Bishop, but he’s no longer the Archbishop.”