Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Adelaide Archbishop guilty of covering up paedophile offences

And these are the churches that are wanting more religious freedoms in the wake of marriage equality. The laws should be going the other way and giving them less freedoms to act behind closed doors. Just because they're a religion they think they're accountable only to themselves. Priests who hear of child sex abuse in the confessional should be required by law to go to the police, just like in any other profession in Australia.

So the Archbishop of Adelaide has been found guilty of covering up the crimes of a paedophile and so allowing him to continue to abuse children. Australia has no statute of limitations for such crimes, with this going back to 1976. The Archbishop Philip Wilson becomes now the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of such a crime. Good job! 

And all the time they were blaming gays.....
The most senior Catholic to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse — Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson — has been found guilty by a New South Wales court, in a landmark ruling.

 The 67-year-old was accused of covering up abuse by priest Jim Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region in the 1970s.

 As part of its defence, Wilson's legal team tried to argue that as child sexual abuse was not considered a serious crime in the 1970s, it was not worthy of being reported to authorities.

 However, Magistrate Robert Stone cast that claim aside in a ruling that could have ramifications in courts around the country.

 There were gasps from those in the packed courtroom when Magistrate Stone handed down the verdict.

 People were crying and shaking hands after the hearing.

 Speaking outside court, abuse survivor Peter Gogarty said the verdict was "one of the most significant days in criminal law in Australian history".

 "I think this will now open the doors for other jurisdictions to start looking at trying to prosecute people who deliberately looked after their institution and, literally, threw children to the wolves," Mr Gogarty said.

 "On behalf of all of the victims — who have been abused in this country and elsewhere — I just want to say what an enormous relief it is that the people who let this happen are finally being brought to account." ABC
*Update*: More on what happened here.
Fletcher was convicted of nine counts of sexual assault against boys as young as 12. In late 2004, he was sentenced to at least seven years in prison without parole. His crimes dated back to the 1970s, and in 1978 was administrator and master of ceremonies at St John’s Cathedral in Maitland, under Bishop Leo Clarke. It was about this time that he developed a disturbing interest in the Cathedral’s altar boys, which usually involved a period of grooming followed by sexual assault. At this time Fletcher was living with Philip Wilson. One of Fletcher’s victims maintained that he was abused in the apartment Fletcher shared with Wilson, and the latter saw him coming and going to the apartment on multiple occasions. This same victim is certain Wilson knew about the abuse, but that he chose to ignore it. Wilson denies this. 

 Bishop Clarke was aware of Fletcher’s proclivities, but simply moved him to other parishes such as Gateshead and Denman, instead of doing anything to actually prevent further abuse, apparently because that “was in the best interests of the church”. This sort of coverup continued for well over 20 years, and it was not until 2003 that he was stood down, because prior to this the church “did not deem him to be a risk”. Fletcher died in gaol in 20063. He was buried in the priests’ section of Sandgate Cemetery (in Newcastle) with a marble headstone celebrating his achievements. I cannot imagine how this makes some of his victims feel. His funeral was attended by 30 Catholic priests who attended despite knowing of his crimes. Even worse, after his death, a group of his church supporters raised money to fight a High Court appeal against his conviction The Blot Report