Former Bishop of Broome charged with rape in Australia

Sydney: Australian bishop Christopher Saunders has been charged with rape and a string of historical sex offences – some against children. The 74-year-old was arrested in Broome on Wednesday, after parallel investigations ordered by Western Australian police and the Pope.

Mr Saunders has indicated he will plead not guilty to all charges against him. He is one of the most senior Catholic clerics to face charges of this nature. Mr Saunders is charged with two counts of rape, 14 counts of unlawful and indecent assault, and three counts of indecently dealing with a child as a person in authority. The alleged offending occurred in the remote Western Australian towns of Broome, Kununurra and the Aboriginal community of Kalumburu between 2008 and 2014.

He was released on bail on Thursday and ordered to reside at his home until his next hearing in June, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. Aside from the late Cardinal George Pell, who was jailed and then acquitted, Mr Saunders is the most senior Catholic official in the country to be charged with child sex offences.

Sunil Kumar Dhangadamajhi

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