Archbishop convicted of covering up sex abuse of children avoids jail, victims respond
For immediate release, July 3, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, Volunteer President of SNAP, the Survivors Network, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org, 415-312-5820
Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson, who was convicted in May of concealing child sexual abuse, has been spared prison time. The archbishop of Adelaide was sentenced yesterday to six months of house arrest followed by six months of probation due to his ailing health and age.
As survivors, we are grateful that Archbishop Wilson was convicted. As the highest ranking Catholic official to be convicted of covering up for the crimes of predatory clergy, this landmark case should have an impact on how the Church behaves in the future.
However, given the horrific damage suffered by the children Archbishop Wilson decided not to protect, the sentence seems woefully inadequate and disappointing. Moreover, we are afraid that when the courts impose a lenient sentence for such a grievous betrayal of trust, the deterrent effect on other Catholic officials is drastically reduced.
Children who are sexually abused are given a life sentence, and Archbishop Wilson unthinkingly handed down that sentence to who knows how many children when he did not report the crimes of Father James Fletcher. We can only hope, along with other victims and advocates, that the archbishop will be found unsuitable for home detention and end up behind bars.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)