Former Australian Bishop faces two new indecent assault charges

Former Bishop of Broome

Former Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders, 74, is facing two fresh charges of indecent assault relating to incidents that allegedly happened eight years ago.

These new charges add to his existing legal battle comprising 26 charges, including sexual penetration without consent, indecent dealing with a child, and unlawful and indecent assault.

WA Police confirmed a 74-year-old faces two charges of indecent and unlawful assault. They did not name the man but the ABC has said through sources that he is Christopher Saunders, the former Bishop of Broome.

Allegedly, in 2016 he sexually assaulted a man aged 21 or 22, marking the emergence of two complainants.

The initial charges stemmed from alleged offences against a complainant in 2008. The offences spanned more than five years in various Kimberley locations.

Horror of sexual abuse

A Church spokesperson said in a statement that the Catholic Diocese of Broome was aware WA Police had charged the former bishop with offences as part of an ongoing investigation into claims of sexual abuse.

“The Catholic Diocese of Broome has and will continue to offer full transparency and co-operation with WA Police” they said.

“Accordingly, no comment will be made regarding the former bishop of Broome until such time as these proceedings are completed.

“The Catholic Diocese of Broome renews its unreserved apology to all those who have suffered the horror of sexual abuse.”

Open justice and fair trial

Scheduled to appear in Broome Magistrate’s Court on June 17, Saunders, through his lawyer Seamus Rafferty, previously signified a not-guilty plea. Magistrate Deen Potter dismissed a suppression order request, affirming the importance of open justice and a fair trial.

Granted bail on a $10,000 surety, Saunders’ supporters and critics witnessed tense courtroom scenes. Ordained as a priest in 1976, he ascended to the role of Bishop in 1996, serving in remote Kimberley communities.

Throughout the legal proceedings, Saunders has consistently maintained his innocence.

Bishop Saunders quit in August 2021 but has kept his title and entitlements.



CathNews New Zealand

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,