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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.