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Marist College Kogarah & Child Sexual Abuse

Some Catholic orders have specific policies regarding institutional child sexual abuse committed in their schools and colleges. Some of them, such as the Marist Brothers, are known for their exceptional cover-ups.

Who are the Marist Brothers?

The Marist Brothers is a Catholic religious community. Marcellin Champagne founded the Order in France in 1817. The Marist Brothers acquired papal authorization as a religious community in 1863.

The Marist Brothers reached Australia in 1872 and started their first school in New South Wales. Since then, the Marist Brothers have played a significant role in developing and administering numerous elementary and secondary schools.

Marist Brothers Child sexual abuse cover-ups

From the 1950s to the 1990s, the Marist Brothers followed the practice of limiting information about allegations or admissions of child sexual abuse. The result was a disregard for the interests of the children entrusted to their care. In addition, because there was no practice of keeping records of sexual abuse complaints against the brothers, there was no way to monitor the continuing behaviour of the brother who was the subject of the complaint. It only worsened the problem of child sexual abuse and its cover-up.

Thus, the Marist brothers believed that the issue of child sexual abuse was spiritual and moral and should be dealt with in spiritual ways, such as confession.

But there have been allegations of sexual assault against 154 brothers at Marist schools as of 2015. Now, even more.

The Marist Brothers occasionally turned to canonical remedies against the brothers. For example, one brother was dismissed from the Order for “misconduct with boys” in 1950, and two were dismissed in 1953 for “serious misconduct with students.” Thus there was no direct reference to sexual abuse.

There are currently 81 nations where Marist Brothers can be found, including those in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. Each year, more than 600,000 kids are enrolled in Marist schools worldwide.

One of them is Marist College Kogarah, which is known, unfortunately, thanks to its child sexual abuse cases.

Marist College Kogarah and its child abusers

Marist Kogarah College is an independent Roman Catholic day school for boys founded in 1909. It is located in the suburb of Bexley, south of Sydney, and serves students in grades 7 through 12 with an approximate enrollment of 1,200.

Sadly, this college was no exception in holding the Marist Brothers teaching staff liable for child sexual abuse.

Brother Christopher and cover-ups

William Henry Wade (the real name of Brother Christopher) was convicted of institutional child sexual abuse, which he committed himself, and of covering up the crimes of the other Marist brothers.

  • 2018 – Brother “Christopher” Wade was sentenced to prison by a court for indecent assaults he conducted against two boys in Newcastle and Sydney forty years ago.
  • Only two survivors, who were 13 or 14 at the time of the crime, decided not to keep quiet. We don’t know how many more there are.
  • Brother Christopher pleaded not guilty.
  • Wade used his position as principal at the school to threaten to contact the boys’ parents for their bad behavior. It allowed him to assume that the boys would be silent.
  • Although the judge took into account the high level of trust and respect he had for the accused in the Marist Brothers, he also considered Brother Christopher’s lack of remorse for what he had done.
  • 2020 – William Henry Wade became the first senior Catholic in Australia to plead guilty to covering up child sexual abuses committed by his colleagues.
  • He was convicted of refusing to provide information about the other Brothers Marist, Brother Romuald, and Brother Dominic during an investigation related to child sexual abuse.
  • Wade could not remember ever reporting to Marist Brothers headquarters about institutional child sexual abuse of which he was aware. Nor had he ever contacted the police.

Brother O’Brien & child abuse

  • The history of conviction in 2021:
  • John Patrick O’Brien was principal at Marist Kogarah College from 1981 to 1986, replacing Christopher Wade.
  • The Royal Commission brought the first charges concerning Brother O’Brien.
  • In 2017, Strike Force Gallagher detectives charged him with several crimes.
  • John Patrick O’Brien did not plead guilty. But that didn’t stop a jury in 2021 from finding him guilty of 11 indecencies or attempted indecency and seven indecent assaults.
  • O’Brien never apologized for his actions.

Following the conclusion of the Brother O’Brien case, the Marist Brothers released a public statement acknowledging the commission of child sexual abuse by eight Marist brothers and apologizing to survivors of child sexual abuse in St. Joseph.

In addition to the Marist Brothers we mentioned, associated with Marist Kogarah College, there are other cases of child sexual abuse committed by the Marist Brothers at their other educational institutions.

The cases, which, however, have brought some relief to the survivors, are those of Brother Romuald and Brother Dominic.

Getting help with historical institutional child sexual abuse compensation

Children usually do not tell their parents or the police about the indecent act immediately after it. They are afraid they will not be believed. In addition, the perpetrators may use their position to demand that the survivor keep it a secret. Children may also feel ashamed.

However, as the child grows up, he or she may become fully aware of what happened and demand that the perpetrator be held liable. You always have the right to child abuse compensation.

As you can see, the cover-up can be revealed even after 40 years.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical institutional child sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

2 replies to Marist College Kogarah & Child Sexual Abuse

  1. I have a complaint to be made against physical abuse and psychological abuse by three teachers at St Bernard’s Primary School at Wangaratta.
    Miss Thistleton 1980
    Mr Lynch 1982
    Mrs Jones 1978

    1. Hi Leo,
      Thank you for this information. We appreciate that it can take a great deal of courage to step forward with this kind of disclosure, and we applaud you for it. One of our historical child sexual abuse lawyers will contact you shortly to hear your story and help you find the best legal path forward.

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