Words By: Darcie Boelen
Image Credit: ABC News
Bishop Max Leroy Davis will stand trial in the West Australian District Court this August, facing child sex offences dating back forty years.
Davis was the head of the Catholic Church’s military diocese and is the most senior church official and first Bishop to be charged with child sex offences in Australia. He is alleged to have indecently dealt with three boys under 14, and committed indecent practices while teaching at St. Benedict’s College in New Norcia in 1969.
He was not a priest at the time of the alleged sex offences, but was ordained two years later. He stood aside from his position with the Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia last year, and was released on conditional bail.
Last year, Davis’ defence lawyer Seamus Rafferty said that he would be pleading not guilty to the charges.
Born in Queensland and raised in Perth, Davis served in the Australian Navy after high school, before leaving to study for the Catholic priesthood in 1964. He worked as a teacher at New Norcia before being ordained and serving with parishes in the Perth archdiocese, acting as a part-time chaplain for the military before working full-time in Australian ships and bases, and joining the Military Ordinariate in 1990.
Awarded the honour of Member of the Order of Australia in 1998, Davis was appointed military bishop in 2003 and now lives in Canberra.
A statement was released from the Military Ordinariate last year, which stated, “The bishop emphatically denies the allegation and the charge will be defended.”
Chief executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said that they were still only allegations and Davis did the right thing by stepping aside, but also stated that, “Every allegation of child abuse needs to be examined.”
Davis has remained in Canberra so far throughout the proceedings, but will appear in the District Court in Perth in 7th August.