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He Doled Out Hail Marys to Abuse Victim. Now, a Verdict

Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of covering up child sex abuse
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2018 2:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – An archbishop accused of turning a blind eye to the abuse of altar boys by a pedophile priest has become the most senior Catholic ever convicted of concealing child molestation. An Australian court has found Philip Wilson, archbishop of Adelaide, guilty of covering up the abuse in the 1970s, the BBC reports. One victim testified that when he was 15 years old in 1976, he told Wilson he'd been abused by parish priest James Fletcher, and Wilson did nothing. Another victim testified that when he was 11 years old, he told Wilson during confession that he was being abused—and Wilson, then an assistant priest, accused him of lying and ordered him to say 10 Hail Marys.

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Prosecutors accused Wilson of concealing the abuse to protect the church and its reputation. Fletcher died in jail in 2006, two years after he was found guilty of abusing an altar boy. Wilson, who denied that anybody had told him about the abuse, called the verdict "obviously disappointing." The 67-year-old faces a maximum of two years in prison when he's sentenced next month. Child sex abuse survivors cheered the verdict, which is expected to set a precedent for future prosecutions, the Australian reports. "It is vindicating knowing that if this bloke had have done something in 1976, which is the year that I was born, my life would have been a lot different than it is today," said abuse victim Daniel Feenan, a prosecution witness. "I'm very happy with the result. Everyone can see, he is guilty." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)

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