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Adelaide Archbishop loses latest bid to halt case

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A NSW magistrate deciding the fate of Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson – who’s accused of covering up child sex abuse by a fellow priest – has rejected his bid to have the case thrown out.

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Magistrate Robert Stone in the Newcastle Local Court today dismissed a submission by defence barrister Stephen Odgers SC that Wilson had no case to answer.

The defence argued the case against Wilson should be thrown out because It was circumstantial and there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the archbishop had been told about the abuse, believed it was true or remembered being told about it.

Following the magistrate’s decision today, Odgers called on Wilson to give evidence in his defence.

Two former altar boys claim they told Wilson in 1976 – when he was an assistant priest – how fellow priest James Fletcher had sexually abused them.

One of Fletcher’s victims, Peter Creigh, said he trusted Wilson would take action against the pedophile priest after telling him what Fletcher had done to him in 1971 when he was 10 years old.

But, he said, Wilson did nothing and never reported the matter to police. It was the first time Creigh had told anyone about the abuse.

The second victim, who can’t be named for legal reasons, said he was about 11 in 1976 when he went into the confessional box to tell Wilson that Fletcher had abused him.

The witness claimed Wilson refused to believe him because Fletcher “was a good bloke”. He was ordered out of the confessional box and told to say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition.

Wilson, 67, is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sex assault.

Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in January 2006.

The rejected “no case to answer” submission was the fourth time Wilson had attempted to have the case thrown out.

Stone was the magistrate in February 2016 who initially refused to quash or permanently stay the proceedings, and then a NSW Supreme Court judge dismissed the archbishop’s appeal against that decision eight months later.

The NSW Court of Appeal also ruled against Wilson in mid-2017.

The case finally began in December after Wilson was found fit to stand trial despite being diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

– AAP

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