Sexual abuse trial starts for Aussie bishop

The trial of an Australian Catholic bishop charged with six counts of being grossly indecent with five boys under the age of 15 has started in Perth.

The trial of the former head of the Australian Catholic military diocese, Bishop Max Davis, is expected to run into next week.

The court has been told that Bishop Davis will testify.

Bishop Davis has denied the charges against him, which pertain to the time when he worked at St Benedict’s College in New Norcia, WA.

The prosecution alleges he performed indecent acts on five students aged between 13 and 15, between 1969 and 1972.

The alleged acts reportedly came under the pretence of medical examinations or while the victims were seeking clarification on sex education.

But Bishop Davis’s lawyer said other adult men at the school –a priest and a religious brother- could performed these acts.

Both are now dead.

Bishop Davis was ordained as a priest in 1971.

In his opening statement, Bishop Davis’s lawyer said he would not dispute the victims had been sexually abused while at the college.

However, the lawyer said there were two other religious men who were known to have been involved in inappropriate behaviour with boys, and that the victims could have mistaken them for Davis.

The jury was told that Bishop Davis was the bishop for the Australian armed forces for 12 years, but had stood down from the role after the allegations surfaced.

Defence lawyer Sean Rafferty said Bishop Davis had always found this kind of conduct “utterly abhorrent”.

Mr Rafferty told the jury that Davis was approached by several Year 12 students in 1971, who told him one of the brothers at the college had been behaving inappropriately.

He said Davis had taken that information straight to the abbot, and the brother had been immediately replaced.

Mr Rafferty told the jury it was likely some of the indecent acts against the victims could have been done by the brother, not Davis.

A victim who gave evidence on Tuesday rejected suggestions he was mistaken about who abused him telling the court, “It was Max Davis. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind.”


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