NEWCASTLE, Australia – An Australian appeal court on Thursday overturned a conviction against the most senior Roman Catholic cleric ever found guilty of covering up…
NEWCASTLE, Australia – An Australian appeal court on Thursday overturned a conviction against the most senior Roman Catholic cleric ever found guilty of covering up child sex abuse.
New South Wales state District Court Judge Roy Ellis upheld former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson’s appeal against his May conviction in a lower court for concealing the sexual abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest in the 1970s. Ellis found there was reasonable doubt that the 68-year-old cleric had committed the crime, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.
Wilson has served almost four months of a year-long home detention sentence at his sister’s house outside Newcastle. He was to become eligible for parole after serving six months.
The judge also dismissed a prosecution appeal against the leniency of the sentence.
Wilson was allowed to watch the decision via a video link from a remote location so he could avoid media cameras at the Newcastle court.
Wilson has always maintained his innocence and after his conviction had initially refused calls for his resignation until he had exhausted his appeal options. But he quit in July after then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on the Vatican to act.
More: Australian archbishop steps down after cover-up conviction
More: Australian archbishop convicted of covering up child sex abuse
Administrator Delegate of the Adelaide Archdiocese, Philip Marshall – Wilson’s replacement – said the church noted the judgment and welcomed the conclusion of a process that had been long and painful for all concerned.

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