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Archbishop’s conviction for abuse cover-up is quashed

Archbishop Emeritus of Adelaide Philip Wilson (Photo Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Adelaide)

Archbishop Philip Wilson wins appeal after serving four months' detention

The former Archbishop of Adelaide has been acquitted of covering up abuse.

Archbishop Philip Wilson, 68, who resigned from his post as Adelaide archbishop after his conviction in May, has had his appeal upheld.

Newcastle district court judge Roy Ellis concluded there was a reasonable doubt of Archbishop Wilson’s guilt.

The archbishop has already served four months of a year-long sentence. He has been allowed to serve it out at his sister’s home rather than a prison.

He was forced to resign in July, two months after the end of his trial, after an outcry that he was still in his post. He initially said he wanted to wait until his appeal had been heard.

The prosecution alleged the archbishop was told by two altar boys in 1976 that they had been abused by a priest, Fr James Fletcher, but that he did nothing about it. It accused Archbishop Wilson of failing to go to the police after Fletcher was arrested in 2004.

The archbishop consistently denied knowing about the 1970s abuse. The appeal judge said Archbishop Wilson had been honest and consistent and not “dissembling and contrived” as the magistrate in the first trial concluded.

The Archdiocese of Adelaide released a statement saying: “We welcome the conclusion of a process that has been long and painful to all concerned.”