has been found guilty of concealing #childsexualabuse
during the 1970s in the Hunter region of #NewSouthWales
.The magistrate Robert Stone handed down the verdict in Newcastle local court on Tuesday after a magistrate-only trial. Wilson faces a maximum two years in prison.The prosecutor, Gareth Harrison, told the court the 67-year-old had to be jailed for what he had done to deter others from trying to protect the #Catholicchurch
from abuse allegations.
The clergyman is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged and convicted of the offence.
In a brief statement, Wilson said he would consider the reasons for the magistrate’s ruling. “I am obviously disappointed at the decision published today,” he said. “I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps.” Wilson was accused of covering up the abuse of four boys by the paedophile priest James Fletcher during the 1970s.
A former NSW police detective chief inspector, Peter Fox, who had previously alleged that the church covered up Fletcher’s offending, said he was “delighted” by the court’s decision because someone within the church was being held to account. “It’s a major turning point,” he said. “It’s been very difficult for so many of these witnesses; I can’t tell you how difficult it’s been. I am confident this will make waves in #theVatican
.” The former police officer, who was with the abuse survivors and their families when the verdict was handed down, said: “Their stomachs have been churning.” Fox said the abuse of one survivor could have been entirely prevented had Wilson taken action when he was told of Fletcher’s abuse of then altar boy Peter Creigh, who gave evidence at the trial.
Outside court, Creigh told reporters that the magistrate’s decision gave him “a huge sense of relief” on a “very significant day for all victims and their families”. He said he hoped the decision would “unravel the hypocrisy, deceit and abuse of power and trust” displayed by the Catholic church. 🖐🏾More in comments👇🏾#PedoGate