“Archbishop needs confession or conviction” & related articles

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Deniliquin Pastoral Times

12 April 2018

AAP News

A memory expert is expected to testify in the trial of Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse.

The 67-year-old this week declared under oath in Newcastle Local Court that two former altar boys never told him they’d been sexually abused by a fellow priest in the 1970s.

Wilson, who’s been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, claims he would have remembered a discussion because he would have been horrified.

But the archbishop said he had no memory of one of the former altar boys, Peter Creigh, telling him in 1976 he’d been sexually abused by priest James Fletcher five years earlier when he was 10.

Magistrate Robert Stone has previously rejected a “no case to answer” submission.

On Thursday the trial will hear from a memory expert – the last defence witness to give evidence.

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Adelaide Archbishop’s ‘awkward’ chat with pedophile

Wilson, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse, told the Newcastle Local Court today he met James Fletcher in late 2004 in the Hunter region a day after a family told him their son had been abused by the priest.

Wilson, who’d worked in the same parish as Fletcher and lived with him briefly in the 1980s, said he visited the priest’s mother to offer her support given the anguish she was suffering after Fletcher was charged.

The archbishop, now 67, said he been there for about 20 minutes when Fletcher appeared unexpectedly. They then talked for a few minutes.

Wilson said he did not ask Fletcher who the boy was who had allegedly been abused.

“It’s not the sort of thing you go around inquiring about … it was an awkward situation,” Wilson told the court today.

“I didn’t go there to discuss the allegations of his behaviour.”

Asked by prosecutor Gareth Harrison if he had wished Fletcher well for his upcoming trial, Wilson said: “No, I didn’t.”

Wilson said when his fellow priest told him he was innocent, he replied it was up to the courts to decide.

Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in 2006.

Wilson denied the meeting with Fletcher would have triggered his memory of claims by two former altar boys who allegedly told him in 1976 that Fletcher abused them.

One of the victims, Peter Creigh, has told the court he told Wilson – then an assistant priest – about the abuse because he thought he could trust him and he’d report Fletcher.

Creigh said he remembered telling Wilson, who did not go to the police, how Fletcher claimed the abuse had been acts of punishment for not doing his job properly as an altar boy.

Wilson, diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, earlier this week said he had no memory of the conversation in 1976.

The archbishop said he believed the conversation likely never happened because he would have remembered to this day if a teenage boy had told him in graphic details how a fellow priest abused him.

Asked by Harrison on Thursday if he believed Creigh had been abused by Fletcher, Wilson said: “There is no reason to doubt the evidence Mr Creigh has given (about the abuse).”

Wilson says he has no memory of seeing a second altar boy who claimed Fletcher had abused him in 1976. The trial continues.

– AAP

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Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson may have empathised with victim’s father who ‘wanted to kill’ paedophile priest, court hears

ABC News

12 April 2018

A man walking. Photo: The Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is accused of concealing child sexual abuse by priest Jim Fletcher. (AAP: Dan Himbrecht)

The Archbishop of Adelaide has told a court he may have empathised with a victim’s father, who said he “wanted to kill” a paedophile priest.

Archbishop Philip Wilson is accused of covering up the child sexual abuse of Father Jim Fletcher in the New South Wales Hunter Valley in this 1970s.

At Newcastle Local Court today, prosecutors alleged Archbishop Wilson spoke with the father of one of Fletcher’s victims, who said: “If I had a gun, I would kill him.”

The court was told the Archbishop replied: “I wouldn’t blame you.”

That exchange is alleged to have taken place in 2004, a year before Fletcher was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child sexual offences. He died in jail.

Archbishop Wilson, 67, told the court he could have said that to the victim’s father, as “I could understand how he would feel”.

A different survivor of child sexual abuse, Peter Creigh, is central to the prosecution’s case.

Mr Creigh claims he told the Archbishop, who was then an assistant priest in Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, about his abuse at the hands of Fletcher in 1976.

He claimed the Archbishop told him he “should be ashamed of himself for lying” and ordered him to “say 10 Hail Marys”.

The court also heard about another victim who complained of abuse in 2004.

Archbishop Wilson told the court he visited the second victim’s family at the time, ahead of Fletcher’s trial.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison alleged he went there because he was curious about what the survivor intended to do about his allegations.

“You wanted to know what [the complainant’s] intentions were to position yourself in the best light,” Mr Harrison said.

Archbishop Wilson rejected those claims, and said he “went there to check on the family to see how they were”.

“They told me they were having difficulty and I went to respond to their difficulties and had no self interest in relation to visiting them,” Archbishop Wilson said.

The trial continues.

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Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson may have empathised with victim’s father who ‘wanted to kill’ paedophile priest, court hears

CNA   Catholic News Agency

12 April 2018

A man walking. Photo: The Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is accused of concealing child sexual abuse by priest Jim Fletcher. (AAP: Dan Himbrecht)

The Archbishop of Adelaide has told a court he may have empathised with a victim’s father, who said he “wanted to kill” a paedophile priest.

Archbishop Philip Wilson is accused of covering up the child sexual abuse of Father Jim Fletcher in the New South Wales Hunter Valley in this 1970s.

At Newcastle Local Court today, prosecutors alleged Archbishop Wilson spoke with the father of one of Fletcher’s victims, who said: “If I had a gun, I would kill him.”

The court was told the Archbishop replied: “I wouldn’t blame you.”

That exchange is alleged to have taken place in 2004, a year before Fletcher was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child sexual offences. He died in jail.

Archbishop Wilson, 67, told the court he could have said that to the victim’s father, as “I could understand how he would feel”.

A different survivor of child sexual abuse, Peter Creigh, is central to the prosecution’s case.

Mr Creigh claims he told the Archbishop, who was then an assistant priest in Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, about his abuse at the hands of Fletcher in 1976.

He claimed the Archbishop told him he “should be ashamed of himself for lying” and ordered him to “say 10 Hail Marys”.

The court also heard about another victim who complained of abuse in 2004.

Archbishop Wilson told the court he visited the second victim’s family at the time, ahead of Fletcher’s trial.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison alleged he went there because he was curious about what the survivor intended to do about his allegations.

“You wanted to know what [the complainant’s] intentions were to position yourself in the best light,” Mr Harrison said.

Archbishop Wilson rejected those claims, and said he “went there to check on the family to see how they were”.

“They told me they were having difficulty and I went to respond to their difficulties and had no self interest in relation to visiting them,” Archbishop Wilson said.

The trial continues.

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Australian Archbishop loses bid to have court case thrown out

The Tablet

12 April 2018

by   Mark Brolly

Magistrate dismisses submission that AB Wilson had no case to answer on charge of concealing child sex abuse

Adelaide’s Archbishop Philip Wilson has lost his fourth attempt to have a charge against him thrown out after Magistrate Robert Stone, in Newcastle Local Court in New South Wales, ruled against his application to do so.

Mr Stone dismissed a submission by defence barrister Stephen Odgers, SC, that Archbishop Wilson had no case to answer on a charge that he concealed child sexual abuse by a fellow priest in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in the 1970s when Fr Wilson, then an assistant priest, was living in the same presbytery as Fr James Fletcher. Fletcher died in prison in 2006, where he was serving a sentence after being convicted on nine counts of child sexual abuse.

Mr Odgers had argued that the case against Archbishop Wilson should be thrown out because it was circumstantial and there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Archbishop had been told about the abuse, believed it was true or remembered being told about it.

The hearing resumed this week after being adjourned in December.

The 67-year-old Archbishop, a former President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference who has led the Church in Adelaide since 2001, told the court last year that he had been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Two former altar boys alleged that they had told then Fr Wilson in 1976 that Fletcher had sexually abused them.

One of Fletcher’s victims, Peter Creigh, said he trusted that Fr Wilson would take action against the priest after telling him what Fletcher had done to him in 1971 when he was 10 years old. But he said Fr Wilson did nothing and never reported the matter to police.

Archbishop Wilson told the court on 11 April that he had known Peter Creigh and his family in the 1970s but had no memory of Mr Creigh telling him of the abuse.

He said the alleged conversation was unlikely to have occurred because Mr Creigh, when giving evidence in December, claimed he went into graphic detail about what Fletcher had done to him.

“I don’t think I would have forgotten that,” Archbishop Wilson said.

Asked by Mr Odgers what he would have done if told about the abuse, Archbishop Wilson said his first priority would have been to provide pastoral care to the then 15-year-old boy and his family. He said he would also have reported the allegations to his superiors.

Asked if he had had any suspicions about Fletcher, Archbishop Wilson replied: “No, I had none.”

Another former altar boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was about 11 in 1976 when he went into the confessional box to tell then Fr Wilson that Fletcher had abused him. But he said Fr Wilson told him he was telling lies because Fletcher was “a good bloke”. The witness said was ordered out of the confessional and told to say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition.

Archbishop Wilson told the court that he had no memory of seeing the second altar boy at all in 1976 but that he would never tell anyone in the confessional box that they were telling lies.

Questioned about his health, Archbishop Wilson said the prescribed medication he was taking to treat his Alzheimer’s had helped improve his memory “although it’s not perfect”.

In February 2016, Mr Stone had initially refused to quash or permanently stay the proceedings and a NSW Supreme Court judge dismissed the Archbishop’s appeal later that year. The NSW Court of Appeal also ruled against Archbishop Wilson last year.

The hearing continues.

 

Pic: The Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson (right) leaves the Newcastle Local Court in Newcastle, Thursday April 12, 2018. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman/PA)

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