Senior Australian clergyman Max Davis steps down over child sex abuse charges

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 1:30am


One of the most senior members of the Catholic Church in Australia has stepped down after being charged with child sex abuse.

Max Davis, who heads the church's military diocese, is the most senior clergyman in Australia, and the first Australian Catholic bishop, to be charged with a child sex offence.

It is alleged he sexually abused a student while teaching at St Benedict's College near Perth in 1969 - two years before he was ordained.

The Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia said Davis, 68, "emphatically denies" the charge.

"An allegation has been made to the police that in 1969 Bishop Max Davis abused a student at St Benedict's College in New Norcia," it said.

"At that time - 45 years ago - the bishop was not ordained. The bishop emphatically denies the allegation and the charge will be defended."

The charge comes with a royal commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse under way in Australia after growing pressure to investigate widespread allegations of paedophilia.

The military is holding its own inquiry into abuse after claims of rape and sexual assault, a culture of cover-ups and a failure to punish perpetrators.

Agence France-Presse