Australian Archbishop Receives House Arrest For Child Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was convicted in May of covering up a former priest's sexual abuse of altar boys dating back to the 1970s.

An Australian court decided Tuesday that former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson of Australia will serve his one-year sentence for covering up child sexual abuse in home detention instead of jail. 

Magistrate Robert Stone ordered Wilson, 67, to serve his time at his sister’s house before he is up for parole in six months, The Associated Press reported. Stone said in court that he believes Wilson is unlikely to commit the same crimes and that home detention is sufficient punishment given the Roman Catholic cleric’s age. He will be under supervision while serving his sentence and will be required to wear a tracking device. 

Wilson was sentenced in July to 12 months in detention after being convicted in May of covering up former priest James Fletcher’s sexual abuse of altar boys dating back to the 1970s. Fletcher was found guilty on nine child sexual abuse charges in 2004 and died in jail in 2006.  

Wilson, who faced a maximum of two years in prison, is the most senior Roman Catholic Church official to ever be convicted of crimes involving child sexual abuse.

During the trial, Wilson denied knowing about any of Fletcher’s actions, even though several of Fletcher’s victims testified in court that they had reported the abuse to Wilson directly. 

Peter Gogarty, one of Fletcher’s survivors, reportedly asked Wilson if he would apologize for his crimes as the priest walked to his car on Tuesday. 

“Any words for me, Philip? Philip, will you say sorry for what you have done to me and other child sex abuse survivors?” Gogarty yelled at Wilson, according to The Telegraph. “Philip, please, something ... one word of contrition.”

Wilson did not respond to Gogarty’s plea for an apology, the AP reported. 

“I’m beside myself about this. I’m still here, still hurting ... and not a single, solitary word to say sorry,” Gogarty told reporters. 

Daniel Feenan, another survivor, also said he would like Wilson to admit to wrongdoing.

“I’d like to see him show some type of remorse and I’d like to see him apologize,” he told the Newcastle Herald

Stone said during July sentencing that Wilson had shown “no remorse or contrition” for his actions

“The whole of the community is devastated in so many ways by the decades of abuse and its concealment,” he said. “We are all the poorer for what has occurred.”

Wilson originally had refused to resign, but Pope Francis reportedly accepted the senior Roman Catholic cleric’s resignation last month after the Australian prime minister called for him to be fired.