Australia

Archbishop Philip Wilson to fight conviction for abuse cover-up

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson was sentenced on Tuesday Image copyright EPA
Image caption Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson was sentenced on Tuesday

A Catholic archbishop in Australia says he will appeal against his conviction for concealing child sexual abuse.

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson was found guilty in May of covering up abuse by a paedophile priest in New South Wales (NSW).

He is the most senior Catholic globally to be convicted of the crime.

During his trial, Wilson denied that he knew of the abuse of altar boys by a paedophile priest in the 1970s. He has so far refused to step down.

"I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously," he said in a statement.

"However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law."

On Tuesday, a court sentenced Wilson to a maximum of 12 months in detention.

Magistrate Robert Stone ordered Wilson to be assessed for "home detention" - meaning he will probably avoid jail.

In May, a court found he had failed to report his colleague James Patrick Fletcher's abuse of altar boys to police in NSW.

Wilson, a junior priest at the time, had dismissed young victims in a bid to protect the Church's reputation, Magistrate Stone found.

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Media caption'Wilson ignored my story for decades'

Fletcher was convicted of nine child sexual abuse charges in 2004, and died in jail two years later.

The archbishop's lawyers had sought to have the case thrown out on four occasions, citing the 67-year-old's diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease.

Wilson stood down from his duties following his conviction.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on the senior clergyman to resign as archbishop.

"I'm surprised that he has not resigned," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"Clearly given the outcome of the case, the lawsuit, the prosecution - he should resign."

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