WA bishop acquitted of child abuse

AAP

The former head of the Catholic Church's defence force diocese has been found not guilty of inappropriately touching boys at a college more than 40 years ago.

Bishop Max Leroy Davis, 70, had been on trial in the West Australian District Court 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, northeast of Perth.

The jury returned its verdict late on Monday.

Davis 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 has 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.

Davis, a Member of the Order of Australia, said he did not remember the complainants at the school and denied ever wearing a habit because he was not a member of the Benedictine order, nor was he ever referred to as "Brother", as alleged.