Aus­tralian arch­bishop cleared of child sex abuse coverup

The Western Star - - WORLD -

An Aus­tralian ap­peal court on Thurs­day over­turned a con­vic­tion against the most se­nior Ro­man Catholic cleric ever found guilty of cov­er­ing up child sex abuse.

New South Wales state Dis­trict Court Judge Roy El­lis up­held for­mer Ade­laide Arch­bishop Philip Wil­son’s ap­peal of his May con­vic­tion in a lower court for con­ceal­ing the sex­ual abuse of two al­tar boys by a pe­dophile priest in the 1970s. El­lis found there was rea­son­able doubt that the 68-year-old cleric had com­mit­ted the crime, which is pun­ish­able by up to two years in pri­son.

Wil­son has served al­most four months of a year-long home de­ten­tion sen­tence at his sis­ter’s house out­side New­cas­tle. He was to be­come el­i­gi­ble for pa­role af­ter serv­ing six months. The judge dis­missed a prose­cu­tion ap­peal against the le­niency of the sen­tence.

Wil­son was al­lowed to watch the de­ci­sion via a video link from a re­mote lo­ca­tion so he could avoid me­dia cam­eras at the New­cas­tle court. Wil­son has al­ways main­tained his in­no­cence and af­ter his con­vic­tion had ini­tially re­fused calls for his res­ig­na­tion un­til he had ex­hausted his ap­peal op­tions. But he quit in July af­ter thenPrime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull called on the Vat­i­can to act.

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