Marist Brother Chrisopher Wade was jailed but is granted bail pending an appeal

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 November 2017

A senior Marist Brother, William Henry Wade (known as "Brother Christopher"), has worked in Marist schools in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Canberra. In November 2017 (aged 81), he was sentenced to a minimum of nine months' jail after being found guilty of indecently assaulting two schoolboys in New South Wales. The alleged incidents occurred 40 years ago. Wade is appealing against these convictions.

William Henry Wade was born on 27 December 1935. According to information given at his trial in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, Wade began training to become a Marist Brother, aged 17. After adopting the religious name "Brother Christopher", he began teaching in Marist schools when he was 19.

  • In the 1950s and 1960s, he taught at Marist schools in Sydney (Parramatta, Lidcombe, Hunters Hill, Eastwood and Randwick).
  • He was a deputy headmaster at Marist Brothers Hamilton (in Newcastle) from 1969 and became headmaster there from 1970 until 1976.
  • He then became headmaster at Marist Brothers Kogarah (in Sydney) until 1983.
  • He was later at schools in Brisbane (Marist College Ashgrove) and Canberra.

In a judge-alone trial, Wade faced three counts of indecently assaulting two boys — one boy at the Hamilton school in 1976 and another at the Kogarah school in 1980.

The boys, who were 13 to 14 at the time, were assaulted in the headmaster's office.

Each boy had been sent there because they he unwell and had wanted to contact his parents.

Indecent assault is an offence which normally involves the perpetrator interfering with the victim's genitals. One of these two boys also alleged that Brother Wade placed the boy's penis into the Brother's mouth.

Justice David Arnott found Wade guilty.

In sentencing, the judge said that Wade relied on his authority and position "making it unlikely the victims would complain". It was "a serious breach of trust," he added.

The judge outlined Wade's career in the Marist Brothers, noting that "he devoted his life to the Brotherhood."

The judge referred to testimonials which outlined Wade's high profile among Marist Brothers and the high regard held for him within education circles.

But the judge also noted that Wade showed no remorse or contrition.

The victims waited many years before contacting police about the assaults, because they were worried about being believed, the court was told.

The two men contacted police separately in 2015 and 2016, and the police then charged Wade.

Sentence and appeal

Judge Arnott sentenced Wade to a maximum of 18 months in jail, with the right to apply for release on parole after serving nine months behind bars.

Wade's lawyers gave notice of an appeal against the conviction. They also applied for bail pending the outcome of the appeal.

On 22 November 2017, after three weeks in jail, Wade was released on bail until his case goes to the appeal court (this would be some months away).