Australian Catholic bishop charged with child sex abuse case

(Photo: REUTERS / Robert Paterson)
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Australian Governor General Dr Peter Hollingwoth inspects The Royal Guard of Honour on the lawn of Government House in Wellington, New Zealand February 21, 2002. Australia's embattled governor-general defied calls to resign on Thursday as a row over his handling of child sex abuse in the Anglican church flared just days before a visit by British monarch Queen Elizabeth.

Australian police have charged a Roman Catholic bishop, who is a military chaplain, on three charges of indecent treatment of children under the age of 14 said to have been committed 45 years ago.

Bishop Max Davis, the head of the Catholic Church's military diocese, was on Friday charged by West Australian police for the alleged crime, the Australian Associated Press reported.

It is believed Davis is the first Australian bishop and the most senior Australian church official charged with a child sex offence.

The 68-year-old bishop appeared in the Perth Magistrate Courts on July 25.

Bishop Davis is accused of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy in 1969.

That is when Davis was a teacher at St. Benedict's College in New Norcia, northeast of Perth, two years before he was to be ordained.

At the Perth Magistrate Courts, the bishop's lawyer requested that his client not be required to appear in court if his presence is not important as Davis now resides in the Australian Capital Territory.

The magistrate granted the request and agreed that Davis only report to Belconnen Police Station in Canberra.

Accusations of Catholic priests' involvement in child sexual abuse have been prevalent in Australia.

On July 24, Father Patrick Holmes was jailed for sexually abusing two young girls in Western Australia. Holmes was sentenced in the District Court of Western Australia after pleading guilty to six child-sex charges.

In July, a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse wrote to the Vatican to seek copies of all documents relating to abuse complaints involving priests in Australia.

The Vatican declined the royal commission's request.

The Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia acknowledged the allegation in a statement on Sunday saying Davis was not an ordained priest when the incident is alleged to have occurred.

It also said he "emphatically denies" the charge.

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