Former Archbishop Philip Wilson, until recently one of the highest ranking Catholic clergy in the world, has been spared a prison sentence despite being found guilty of concealing child sexual abuse by a pedophile priest from the authorities.
In handing down his sentence in Newcastle Local Court, magistrate Robert Stone on Tuesday stated Wilson, 67, could serve his 12-month custodial sentence in the comfort of his sister’s home, not behind bars.
Wilson, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Adelaide in July after becoming the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, showed no emotion when the decision was handed down — and refused to apologize to victims of his crime.
As the former Archbishop left the court, Peter Gogarty — who was a victim of pedophile priest Jim Fletcher — asked Wilson to apologise but the clergyman refused to make eye contact and stayed silent.
One of Wilson’s supporters asked Gogarty why he did not come forward when he was abused as a child and then said: “I don’t have time for rubbish like you, mate.“
An enraged Gogarty began yelling “you pig, you pig” and said he was “beside himself” that Wilson would not apologize.
“Any words for me, Philip? Philip will you say sorry for what you have done to me and other child sex abuse survivors?“
But the former Archbishop, showing no emotion, refused to offer a word of contrition.
SBS reports: Wilson for two months refused to quit following his conviction, claiming he wanted to wait for the outcome of his appeal.
But under mounting pressure from child abuse victims and Catholic priests to resign, and calls from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the Pope to sack him, Wilson offered up his resignation as a “catalyst to heal pain and distress”.
Mr Stone found Wilson had shown no remorse or contrition for the cover-up and his primary motive had been to protect the Catholic Church.
The magistrate accepted Wilson was unlikely to re-offend but had to serve a period of detention to act as a deterrence to others.
He said given Wilson’s age, mental and physical conditions and the fact he had previously been of good character, a home detention order was an adequate punishment.
Mr Stone found Wilson guilty in May during a landmark magistrate-only trial of failing to go to the police to report the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher.
Fletcher was found guilty of child sexual abuse in 2004 and died in jail of a stroke in 2006.