Catholic Headmaster Walks Free Despite Concealing Abuse Allegations

By Steve Zemek
NCA Newswire via The Australian
September 30, 2020

William Wade has escaped a prison sentence despite admitting to failing to tell police about sexual abuse allegations against former Catholic colleagues. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy Piper

A convicted sex offender and former school principal has been spared prison despite failing to disclose to police details of sexual abuse allegations levelled at Catholic colleagues in what’s believed to be a first in Australia.

William Wade was on Wednesday allowed to walk free from Sydney’s Downing Centre despite the leniency of his sentence angering his former victims.

The 84-year-old pleaded guilty in the District Court to seven counts of concealing a serious indictable offence of another person after he omitted key information during a police interview about two teachers who sexually abused students at Hamilton Marist school in Newcastle in the 1970s.

The court heard how seven students came to him claiming they had been abused by Darcy O’Sullivan and Francis Cable - both of whom are serving prison sentences for indecently assaulting multiple boys.

The court heard how in 1972, one student came to him after Cable had attempted to sexually assault him in a locker room.

When Wade was presented with the complaint, he told the boy: “No, no, no. Those kinds of things don’t happen here. You can’t make up stories like that”.

On another occasion that same year, another student, who was being punished for setting off fireworks on school grounds, confronted Wade about allegations three brothers - including Cable and O’Sullivan - were “molesting kids”.

“How do you justify it?” the boy asked.

Wade responded that all three were “good and competent teachers”.

While Acting Judge Michael Adams decried Wade’s actions as “immoral and irresponsible”, he said he could not be punished under law for his failures to report the complaints in the preceding decades.

William Wade arrives at court to be sentenced for concealing from police sex abuse allegations levelled at former Catholic colleagues. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy Piper

“Had the offender done his duty by the students for whom he was responsible at the time they made their complaints, the further sexual abuse of them and other victims may well have been prevented,” Judge Adams said.

“His inaction and silence thus contributed to terrible consequences. However, it must be emphasised that he cannot now be punished for what he omitted to do at that time.”

Instead, he was charged with failing to disclose the complaints to police when he was interviewed in 2014.

When asked about the allegations against O’Sullivan, he said he was “completely shocked” but said he did recall one complaint against Cable.

He was facing a maximum possible prison term of two years.

However, Judge Adams sentenced him to a four-month jail sentence to be served by way of an intensive corrections order.

Wade is believed to be the first senior Catholic in Australia to plead guilty to concealing child sex crimes within the church.

Judge Adams took into account Wade’s ailing health and reports from psychiatrists and doctors that a prison term would be “terminal”.

The court heard an excerpt of a letter written by Wade in which he expressed “a great deal of remorse”.

“If I had my time again, I would unhesitatingly report any suspicions of such criminal conduct that came to my notice,” he said.

“For my dereliction of duty in this regard I humbly and sincerely apologise to the victims and their families.”

Judge Adams said he also took into account Wade’s expressions of remorse, saying that the prosecution case was “weak” and it’s likely he wouldn’t have been convicted if it hadn’t been for his guilty plea and admissions.

In 2017, Wade was jailed for 18 months - with a nine-month non-parole period - for indecently assaulting two boys at Hamilton Marist School and Kogarah Marist in the 1970s and 1980s.

Outside court, one of his victims - who he abused in 1980 during his time as headmaster at Kogarah Marist - expressed his disappointment at the sentence.

“He could do jail time very easily, even if he’s unwell,” the man said.

“All he has to do is lay down in his cell for four months.”









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