Former church minister on historical sex assault charges
A FORMER Uniting Church minister accused of sexually assaulting two young men in Queensland about 20 years ago will face a trial.
Maurice Arthur Frazier Wildish, who denies the claims, was on Tuesday committed to stand trial in the Southport District Court on 10 counts of unlawful and indecent assault.
It was alleged in the Southport Magistrate Court that Wildish sexually assaulted four people including two young men between 1998 and 2003.
The incidents allegedly happened on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and northern Queensland.
The men gave evidence about the historical sexual assault allegations in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday but the court was closed to the public, as is the practice for sexual offences.
It is alleged Wildish sexually assaulted one man, who was aged 18 and 21 at the time, on four occasions between 2001 and 2003.
Wildish's lawyer Stephen McGhie, of Richardson McGhie, said the evidence given by the man was "simply absurd".
Mr McGhie argued the alleged victim couldn't explain why he continued to "go back" to the Wildish, who was a Uniting Church minister at the time, if he was being allegedly sexually assaulted by Wildish.
"The main problem with the evidence is just that it's inherently absurd," Mr McGhie.
"This man has zero credibility. I would submit he was a terrible witness.
"He says that in the first incident, if I can summarise it, I've been molested by this man and talks about the end feeling terrible, feeling frightened or something like that, so what does he do? He fronts up some time later again.
"When I asked him why he did that, I got a long speech about minority groups … about changing society, no explanation for why you would go back again having experienced that."
Prosecutor Tom Connolly said the man was a young gay man in rural northern Queensland town with a population of about 2000 and was desperate for acceptance.
Mr Connolly said the man had a fear of rejection and wanted acceptance which he thought he would get from Wildish.
"In his explanation as to the offending and why it continued and why he ended up going back to see the church minister after he had been allegedly offended against, it is my view that he thought he could trust the Reverend," Mr Connolly said.
"It's important to note at this time he was a young man from northern Queensland at that stage he felt no one would accept him.
"He came before this court. He responded to questions. He provided evidence and in the Crown's submission, he was a good witness."
Magistrate Cameron McKenzie said the man gave evidence "openly and honestly" and there was enough evidence to commit Wildish to stand trial.
Wildish did not enter a plea. His matter will go to trial in the Southport District Court in the coming months.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Former church minister faces trial for historical sex assault charges