Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson’s lawyers are seeking to call evidence from two people to prove he had a tendency to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the authorities. Source: Newcastle Herald.
Archbishop Wilson returned to the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court yesterday, four months after the trial began into allegations he concealed child sexual abuse by Hunter priest Jim Fletcher.
Barrister Stephen Odgers, SC, who represents Archbishop Wilson, sought an “advanced ruling” from magistrate Robert Stone to tender the statement of two people, including Msgr David Cappo, to show he had a tendency to report allegations of child sexual abuse and not conceal them.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison opposed the defence application and said that if Mr Stone allowed it he would seek to call evidence from three people that he said showed the Archbishop had a tendency to protect the Church.
The 67-year-old has pleaded not guilty to failing to advise police between April 2004 and January 2006 that Fr Jim Fletcher allegedly indecently assaulted Peter Creigh when he was 10 years old, in 1971.
The application, which will be ruled on by Mr Stone today, comes as the defence revealed they plan to make detailed submissions that Archbishop Wilson does not have a case to answer at the conclusion of the prosecution case.
If successful that would mean Archbishop Wilson would not be required to run a defence and the charge would be dismissed.
The prosecution must prove that Mr Creigh told Archbishop Wilson, then a junior Maitland-Newcastle Diocese priest, about the sexual abuse in 1976 and that Archbishop Wilson remembered it and had a belief that the allegations were true between 2004 and 2006, after Fletcher had been charged with child sex offences and before his death in jail.
Mr Odgers said the tendency evidence was crucial to the case.
“Those tendencies make it more likely that he didn’t have in his head at that time a memory of this 1976 allegation,” Mr Odgers said.
“Or alternatively, makes it more likely that he didn’t believe it. “If he remembered it and believed it he would have reported it, as was his tendency at the time.”
Archbishop wants abuse case thrown out (Newcastle Herald)