Archbishop Philip Wilson Pleads Not Guilty to Concealing Child Sex Abuse

By Gabriel Wingate-Pearse
Sydney Morning Herald
May 7, 2015

Archbishop Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty. Photo: David Mariuz

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty to concealing child sex abuse in the Catholic church via his lawyer in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.

Archbishop Wilson, who did not appear, was represented by barrister Simon Buchen, who said his client was pleading not guilty and he was anticipating a lengthy hearing.

He flagged with Magistrate Robert Stone there may be an application to "change the venue

Archbishop Wilson's lawyer Simon Buchen, left, leaving court in Newcastle on Thursday. Photo: Darren Pateman

One issue was the possible length of any hearing but Mr Buchen alluded to other issues which he did not specify.

"That's not the only reason," he said.

Mr Stone said he could make an application but if a magistrate could be made available at Newcastle, if that was where most witnesses were located, it may not be granted.

The prosecution asked for six weeks to prepare the brief of evidence to be served by June 3, reply on June 17, when Archbishop Wilson, who is not on bail, would again be excused from attending.

Archbishop Wilson is the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest.

He was charged on March 17 with one count of concealing a child sex allegation made against the late Hunter priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.

That came nearly nine months after the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry recommended the charge.

Police allege that the archbishop knew for two years - between April 2004 and July 2006 - that Fletcher had abused a 10-year-old boy but failed to notify police.

Outside the court, Mr Buchen said his client had pleaded not guilty and would be defending the charges, but refused to comment on why the archbishop did not come to court.

The archbishop is one of only a handful of Catholic clergymen in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex allegation against another priest, and only the third in Australia after the late Toronto priest Tom Brennan became the first to face such a charge in 2012.








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