ONE of Australia’s most senior Marist Brothers showed no emotion and no remorse on Friday when he was jailed after losing an appeal against his conviction for child sex offences in 1976 and 1980.
William Henry Wade, 82, known as Brother Christopher at 10 NSW, Queensland and Canberra Marist schools where he taught between 1955 and 2000, used a walking frame as he was led from the Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney to complete an 18 month sentence for crimes against two former students.
The court rejected Wade’s argument he was “entitled to know” why District Court Judge David Arnott accepted the evidence of the students at Marist schools in Hamilton and Kogarah and rejected Wade’s denial of the offences.
Judge Arnott, sitting alone in June, 2017, found Wade guilty of three counts of indecently assaulting a Hamilton Marist student, 13, in 1976 when he sought help from headmaster Wade after feeling ill, and a Kogarah Marist student, 14, four years later who was indecently assaulted after seeking help from Wade for a medical condition that required hospital treatment.
His two victims were abused in court by a Wade supporter after the guilty finding.
Judge Arnott found Wade was an “opportunistic” offender who committed gross breaches of trust against his victims and relied on his authority as a headmaster to silence the boys.
Justices Robert Hulme, Monika Schmidt and Peter Hamill found no miscarriage of justice after Judge Arnott did not state clearly that he rejected Wade’s denial of the offences, but gave extensive reasons for accepting the former students’ evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Hulme found there was “no merit” in Wade’s assertion that Judge Arnott failed to give reasons for rejecting a psychologist’s evidence about memory, after both former students were challenged about aspects of their evidence.
It was “rather telling” that lawyers for Wade could provide no examples of the psychologist’s evidence that Judge Arnott had failed to take into account, Justice Hulme found.
The appeal court also rejected Wade’s argument that an 18 month sentence, with a minimum term of nine months, was manifestly excessive. His earliest release date is January 19, 2019.
Outside the court one of his victims said the appeal decision was a relief, but it was also emotional and “a little surreal”.
“The victims pay a high price for these crimes but there’s a sense of justice when they’re convicted and an appeal court confirms the decision. He might be surrounded by his supporters but it’s a fact. He’s a child sex offender. He’s a Marist Brother and he’s a convicted child sex offender,” Wade’s Kogarah victim said.
“This is a day for all victims of child sexual abuse, and not just Wade’s victims. I trusted the system and it worked.”
He strongly criticised the Marist Brothers for failing to act to remove members of the order after they are convicted of offences.
“If he was an employee of any other organisation he would have been kicked out by now, but not the Marist Brothers. Even priests are defrocked,” the victim said.
“There’s a real gap between what they say and what they do, despite everything that’s happened.”
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