.- A district judge overturned Thursday the conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson for failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse disclosed to him in the 1970s, saying there was reasonable doubt a crime had been committed.
Newcastle District Court Judge Roy Ellis said Dec. 6 that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Archbishop Wilson did not report abuse committed by Fr. James Fletcher, when Fletcher was charged in 2004 with child abuse which occurred between 1989 and 1991.
Peter Creigh, and another altar boy who is unnamed for legal reasons, said they both had told Wilson in 1976 of their abusive experience with Fr. Fletcher.
Archbishop Wilson, 68, resigned as Archbishop of Adelaide July 30.
Ellis said that “there were very honest features” of Archbishop Wilson’s evidence which “provide a strong platform for him to be an honest witness,” and that “there is no proper basis on which I can rely to reject” the prelate’s evidence, according to the ABC.
The judge also noted that the archbishop “did not attempt to blacken the name of Peter Creigh and allege he was a liar,” calling it an indication of the prelate’s “overall honesty.”
Archbishop Wilson did not say he disbelieved Creigh, which Ellis said “is once again supportive of his honesty as a witness,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Ellis questioned his memory of the conversation Creigh says he had with Wilson 42 years ago, and said there were inconsistencies in Creigh’s evidence, asking: “Was the duration of the abuse, six or nine months?”
Read more at Catholic News Agency.