Archbishop Accused of Covering up Child Sex Abuse for Decades "Told an 8-year-old Boy He Was Lying When He Complained about Being Abused by a Priest and That He Should Be Ashamed of Himself"
Australian Associated Press
December 6, 2017
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been accused of covering up child sex abuse by the Catholic clergy for nearly three decades.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison told the Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday that Wilson had allegedly been involved in a number of cases where he had tried to prevent abuse claims being reported to police between 1976 and 2004 to protect the Catholic Church.
In his opening address on the first day of Wilson's trial where he is accused of concealing information about the abuse of an altar boy by now-dead pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region, Mr Harrison said the evidence would show Wilson had failed to report widespread child abuse by the Catholic clergy and a teacher.
|Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson arrives at Newcastle Local Court, Wednesday, December 6|
The prosecutor said Wilson had been a priest at a parish in 1976 when an altar boy came to him in the presbytery to reveal he had been sexually abused by Fletcher when he was 10 years old.
The altar boy claimed Wilson was shocked by the abuse claims and promised to look into it but nothing happened.
Mr Harrison said another altar boy, aged between eight and nine years old, went to see Wilson in the confessional box in late 1976 to complain about being abused by Fletcher but Wilson told the boy he was lying.
Wilson allegedly told the boy he didn't believe him and he should be ashamed of himself before sending him off to say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition.
The prosecutor said Wilson was told by another boy's family in 2004 how he had been abused by Fletcher.
Wilson allegedly told the family there was nothing he could do because by that time he was the Archbishop of Adelaide and they should ring their local bishop.
Fletcher was convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing another young boy and died in prison in January 2006.
|Wilson is accused of concealing information about the abuse of an altar boy by now-dead pedophile priest James Fletcher (pictured) in the NSW Hunter region|
|The altar boy claimed Wilson was shocked by the abuse claims and promised to look into it but nothing happened|
|Wilson allegedly told the boy he didn't believe him and he should be ashamed of himself before sending him off to say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition|
|The prosecutor said Wilson was told by another boy's family in 2004 how he had been abused by Fletcher|
Mr Harrison said the family claimed when they finally met Wilson in late 2004 he told them he had paid $10,000 to one woman from South Australia who had been pestering him about claims she or one of her relatives had been abused by someone from the Catholic Church.
Defence barrister Stephen Odgers SC said a lot of the claims aired in court by the prosecutor were hearsay and would be inadmissible during Wilson's trial.
Wilson, 67, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sex assault, sat quietly in court behind his team of lawyers during the prosecutor's opening address.
Wilson had travelled to Newcastle from Adelaide on Wednesday to appear in court after having been found fit to stand trial.
|Wilson, 67, is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sex assault|
|Wilson had travelled to Newcastle from Adelaide on Wednesday to appear in court after having been found fit to stand trial|
He had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease before meeting Adelaide neuropsychologist Emma Scamps on Tuesday afternoon to determine if he was capable of understanding the evidence to be given at his trial and to instruct his lawyers.
Dr Scamps believed Wilson, who had a pacemaker fitted on November 22, had signs of cognitive impairment but was mentally well enough to stand trial.
Wilson's trial had been due to begin last week before concerns were raised over his physical and mental health.
The trial resumes on Thursday.
The NSW Court of Appeal in June dismissed Wilson's third attempt to have the proceeding against him quashed or permanently stayed.