A Marist Brother was charged with attempted buggery of a Sydney schoolboy

By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 February 2017

In 1974, Marist Brother Luke Leslie Garfield Saker was teaching at a Marist college in Auburn in Sydney's inner-west. Forty years later, in 2014, he was charged by police with sexual offences allegedly committed in 1974 against a 16-year-old boy, who was a student at the Auburn school. However, Saker died in 2016 — before the court process finished. Police believe that this boy was not Saker's only victim, but his other victims have failed to report Saker's crimes to the police.

Originally, the Saker case was mentioned in an announcement from the New South Wales Police media office on 11 December 2014. This statement said:

"On Tuesday 9 December 2014, investigators spoke with a 73-year-old man who was a former teacher [at the college in Auburn]. He was later issued a future court attendance notice for the offences of indecent assault on a male and attempted buggery."

A week after this police interview, Brother Saker turned 74 years of age.

The police investigation was conducted by detectives from Auburn Police Station.

Saker's court case had its first official mention on 20 January 2015 with a magistrate in Sydney's Burwood Local Court. This was a brief administrative procedure for the charges to be officially filed in court. Broken Rites found that, on display in the Burwood court-house on that day was a list of 192 cases which were scheduled for a court mention that day (in several court-rooms), and Leslie Garfield Saker was included on the list.

At that stage, Brother Saker was not yet required to indicate whether he would plead "guilty" or "not guilty". The plea is usually entered on a much later date in the court process, because there is a waiting list in the court system.

The Saker case was scheduled to come up again in the Burwood court on 13 May 2015 for a further mention to consider the subsequent steps in the judicial process. The main proceedings (including the plea) were then placed in the queue for a later date.

Broken Rites has found that, according to the Marists, Brother Luke Saker died in Sydney on 8 August 2016, aged 75.

Research by Broken Rites

Broken Rites has ascertained that Lesllie Garfield Saker's date of birth was 15 December 1940.

A Marist document says: "Br Luke ... attended various State schools and completed his education at Chevalier College [a Catholic college in Bowral, southern New South Wales]. After school, he worked in radio at 2UE, 2SM, 2WG; and 1968 found him teaching at Marcellin [College] Randwick [in Sydney]. He entered the [Marist] Novitiate in 1973 and took Final Vows in 1980."

When he joined the Marist Brothers, he became Brother "Luke" Saker. (It used to be common for a new Marist Brother to be given a new "religious" first-name, often in honour of a saint.) A Marist Brothers document has given his full name (for Marist Brothers purposes) as Luke Leslie G. Saker. For court purposes, the prosecution charge sheet gives his name as Leslie Garfield Saker.

Former students at Marist schools in Sydney have told Broken Rites that they still have friends who who were abused by Brother Luke Saker at their particular school. However, these victims have tended to remain silent or, if they reported his offences, they merely told Saker's colleagues in the Marist Brothers order (and unfortunately not the police) — and therefore Saker's crimes were successfully covered up.

The Auburn detectives were very sympathetic and helpful towards the Saker victim who finally contacted the detectives at the age of 56.

Evidently the Marists were keen to protect Saker. In the late 1980s, the Marists helped to arrange for Saker to study at a university in Canada, where he did a course in how to teach religious education. Later, while still a member of the Marist order, he spent time teaching religious-education students at a university in Western Ausrtalia.

The Marists Brothers order continued to regard Saker as a member of the Marist family until the time of his death in 2016.

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