Australian archbishop convicted for concealing child sex abuse

In this image made from video, Archbishop Philip Wilson, center, heads to Newcastle Local Court, north of Sydney, Australia on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (AP)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Australian archbishop convicted for concealing child sex abuse

  • 7 percent of Catholic priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2010 had been accused of child sex crimes
  • Australia completed a five-year government-appointed inquiry into child sex abuse in churches

SYDNEY: An Australian archbishop was Tuesday found guilty of covering up child sex abuse in the 1970s — one of the highest-ranked church officials globally to be successfully prosecuted for such offenses.
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was accused of concealing abuse by notorious paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the New South Wales Hunter region by failing to report the allegations.
His legal team reportedly made four attempts to have the case thrown out, arguing Wilson’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s should preclude him from trial — although it did not prevent him retaining his position in the church.
Magistrate Robert Stone found him guilty at Newcastle Local Court of concealing a serious indictable offense of another person, with the archbishop facing a maximum of two years in jail. Sentencing will be at a later date.
There was no dispute during the hearing that Fletcher, who is now dead, sexually abused altar boy Peter Creigh, but that Wilson, then a junior priest, did nothing about it when he was told.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported from the court that Stone found Creigh to be a truthful and reliable witness.
“I am satisfied and find that Mr.Creigh described to the accused he performed fellatio of Fletcher and masturbated Mr.Fletcher,” he said.
Stone added that he did not accept Wilson could not remember a 1976 conversation in which Creigh described the abuse, saying he “had no motive or interest to deceive or make up the conversation.”
The charges laid against Wilson, in 2015, stemmed from the work of Strike Force Lantle, which since 2010 had investigated claims of child abuse concealment by former and current clergy attached to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church.
His conviction is another headache for Pope Francis, whose papacy has been haunted by allegations of sex abuse among Catholic priests.
Last week, 34 Chilean bishops announced their resignation over a child sex abuse scandal.
Several members of the Chilean church hierarchy are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by Chilean paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.


Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

Updated 24 June 2018
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Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

  • Former PM Nawaz Sharif may not be able to spearhead PML-N's election campaign
  • The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday

ISLAMABAD: The electoral success of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hangs in the balance as its most charismatic leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is outside the country and may not lead his party’s campaign ahead of the July 25 polls, analysts say.
“If Sharif doesn’t return from London to Pakistan by next week, his party may face huge losses in the upcoming elections,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday.
The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” Malik said.
Sharif is in London visiting his wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, who has been on a ventilator since June 14 and has been undergoing treatment for throat cancer since August 2017.
“Do you think it is appropriate for me to return to Pakistan when Begum Kalsoom is fighting for life?” Sharif asked on Saturday.
He said he had planned a four-day trip to London, but is now unsure about returning to Pakistan due to her health. Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz have been in the UK since June 15.
“The Sharif family is passing through a difficult time, and the situation could adversely impact their party’s electoral prospects,” Malik said.
An accountability court hearing three separate corruption references against Sharif, Nawaz and others is scheduled to conclude the trial by July 9, as per the Supreme Court’s instructions.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding the prime minister’s office, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file corruption references against him and his family members.
“Even after being disqualified from holding any public office, Sharif still enjoys public support,” political analyst Rasul Bukhsh Rais told Arab News.
But if the accountability court convicts Sharif in the graft cases before the elections, this would demoralize his party and PML-N voters, Rais said.
His younger brother, who has become the party’s president after Sharif’s disqualification, “may not be able to run an effective election campaign,” Rais added.
Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, the PML-N’s information secretary, said Sharif and his daughter will return to Pakistan to lead the party’s election campaign once his wife’s health improves.
“Our detractors will be disappointed. The PML-N will win a clear majority in the elections under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” Khan told Arab News.