THEY were the guilty pleas that made Australian and world history, delivered in a packed Sydney courthouse on Friday without fanfare, that unleashed a wave of relief, grief, anger and then joy, that's been bottled up for nearly 50 years.
Marist Brother William Wade's two guilty pleas to concealing the serious child sex crimes of Marist colleagues Francis Cable and Darcy O'Sullivan confirmed what many former Marist students already knew - they had told the truth about the crimes against them, and the Catholics who covered up.
Wade, 83, the principal of Marist Hamilton school between 1971 and 1976 when he was known as Brother Christopher, is the first senior Catholic in Australia, and possibly only the third in the world, to plead guilty to concealing the child sex crimes of Catholic colleagues.
The former principal of five Marist high schools, including the flagship Ashgrove school in Queensland and Marist schools at Kogarah, Randwick and Canberra, is believed to be the first conceal case against a senior member of a religious order that has ended with guilty pleas, and one of only a handful of prosecutions in the world against Catholic Church leaders for failing to report child sex allegations to police or authorities.
Geoffrey Nash, whose brother Andrew was 13 when he took his own life at the family's Hamilton home in October, 1974, said the guilty pleas, "straight from the guy himself, a senior Marist Brother after a long and glorious career", were "good, it's good".
In 2016 the Marist Brothers acknowledged to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that "all the evidence" pointed to Andrew Nash being sexually assaulted by his year master Francis Cable, known to boys as Brother Romuald.
"The principal of all those Marist schools has admitted he concealed serious child sexual abuse by two of his staff in the 1970s. His job was to look after boys like Andrew and instead he covered up for the criminals. And 46 years after Andrew's death he finally admits it. Everyone really is so glad that the truth is coming out about what they did," Mr Nash said.
"All those boys and men who over the years have said terrible things happened to them at these schools can now say 'I told you so. I was right. I was right all along', and there would be hundreds of victims of these criminals."
Wade said only two words during a brief appearance before Sydney District Court Judge Christopher O'Brien on Friday - "Guilty" and "Guilty" - to charges laid by Lake Macquarie's Strike Force Georgiana detectives in 2017 after statements to them in 2014 in which Wade denied knowledge of child sex allegations against Brother Romuald and Darcy O'Sullivan, known as Brother Dominic.
He was charged under section 316 of the NSW Crimes Act, which was strongly criticised by Catholic commentators after Archbishop Philip Wilson was charged with that offence but successfully appealed his conviction in 2018. The charge says it is an offence if someone "knows or believes that a serious crime has been committed and fails, without a reasonable excuse, to inform the police".
Wade has already served a jail sentence after he was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting two boys at Marist Hamilton and Kogarah schools.
Mr Nash acknowledged the determination and support of Strike Force Georgiana detectives led by Sergeant Kristi Faber.
"The Nash family are full of thanks and admiration for their tremendous pursuit of these criminals and the support given to survivors for so many years by Kristi Faber. We think she's fantastic. She never gave up. She kept going and she's done a great job. That's a big scalp and a significant outcome not just in Australia but in world terms," Mr Nash said.
John Dunn, who was a victim of Romuald's and a good friend of Andrew Nash, said Wade's guilty pleas were "vindication for many", but "he's not the only Catholic who covered up".
"People are feeling relief and sadness and anger because if Wade had stood up, if one of them had stood up back then and done something to stop these criminals, how many boys' lives would have been saved?" Mr Dunn said.
"That's the reality of this. One of them has finally admitted, 'I covered up'. Just one. These protectors were there, which is why I'm glad he's been nailed, but there were so many others who knew and did nothing to protect children."
Wade will be sentenced in June. The Marist order was contacted for comment.
Francis Cable (Brother Romuald) and O'Sullivan (Brother Dominic) are serving jail terms for serious child sex crimes against multiple boys at the Hamilton Marist school in the 1970s and 1980s.
During evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 Wade said he received only one complaint about Romuald while principal at the Marist Hamilton school, and none against Brothers Dominic and Patrick.
He told the royal commission he knew his evidence conflicted with the evidence of others, who said they reported child sex allegations about the three Marist brothers to Wade. He told the commission he did not doubt most of the abuse against multiple boys happened, but he could not recall any of the details.
Wade told the royal commission he could not recall ever referring any complaints about Marist Brothers staff to the order's provincial.
Wade said he accepted Romuald's denial in the 1970s after a child sex complaint, after Romuald said: "I thought I had been good in that area recently."
Royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan challenged Wade on whether a single complaint of child sex against a Marist colleague would have stood out.
Justice McClellan put to Wade that he was wrong to accept Romuald's denial, which had "terrible consequences".
Wade said he carried "a great deal of grief and regret and sorrow about it".
"I should have at least informed the provincial (the head of the order) and possibly gone to the police," Wade told the royal commission in 2016.
Wade said he also could not recall going to the Hamilton home of Andrew Nash, a Hamilton Marist school student, on the night Andrew, 13, took his own life in October, 1974 while a student of Brother Romuald.
Asked by barrister Hilbert Chiu, representing the Nash family, why he could not remember, Wade told the royal commission: "I'm not saying I didn't do it. I've struggled to, I've struggled to picture myself in the context. I've struggled to picture myself having gone to the home in the company of the people that I read about in the evidence, who say that they were there with me and I simply can't picture or recollect or recall."
Mr Chiu accused Wade of "pretending you don't remember that evening because you're a coward and you're a liar."
"That's not true," Wade told the royal commission.
The head of the Marist order, Brother Peter Carroll, apologised to the Nash family at the end of the royal commission hearing after agreeing that "all the evidence" indicated Andrew Nash had been sexually abused.
Brother Carroll told the royal commission the order had failed to do anything about the sex crimes and excessive violence of many of its Brothers.
Two American bishops are believed to be the only other senior Catholics in the world to enter guilty pleas to concealing child sex crimes of priests or Catholic colleagues.
High profile conceal cases against French Catholic clerics, including a cardinal, in the past two years have been either acquitted, or overturned on appeal.