Acquitted bishop considers future

AAP

The former head of the Catholic Church's defence force diocese is contemplating his future after being acquitted of child sex offences in Perth.

Bishop Max Leroy Davis, 70, went on trial in the West Australian District Court last week, charged with six counts of being grossly indecent with five boys under the age of 15 between 1969 and 1972 at St Benedict's College in New Norcia.

After several hours of deliberations, the jury returned a not guilty verdict late on Monday.

The Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force said in a statement on Tuesday that Davis, who stood aside while the matter was dealt with by the courts, would "take some time to decide whether to return to public ministry".

"The Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force strongly encourages any victim of abuse by clergy or staff within the Catholic Church, or any other agency or person, to report the matter to the police and to seek assistance through the dedicated legal and support services."

Davis, a Member of the Order of Australia, testified during the trial that he never thought of children sexually or committed a child sex offence, describing it as wrong and inappropriate.

Defence counsel Seamus Rafferty suggested two alternative suspects, who are now dead, including Father Justin, who Davis had a role in removing as rector for inappropriate behaviour.

The other was Brother Benedict, who was in charge of discipline before Davis took over amid his concerns about the way discipline, which included corporal punishment, was administered.