Sydney EFE


Updated Thursday, February 22, 2024-07:53



have arrested a retired bishop for allegedly committing 19 crimes of sexual abuse and pedophilia between 2008 and 2020, who must appear in court this Thursday to answer the accusations.


Christopher Saunders

, who resigned from his position in 2020 - the year in which the first complaints came to light and after almost half a century at the service of the Catholic Church - was arrested the day before at his home in the city of


, in the northwest of the country, according to a statement from the Western Australian State Police, published last night.

Saunders has been accused of two crimes of sexual penetration without consent, fourteen of indecent unlawful assault and three of indecent handling by a person in authority of a minor between 16 and 18 years of age, the note adds.

This Thursday, the cleric must appear before the Broome court, which plans to address the accusations against him, according to the program published on the court's official website.

Saunders, 74, who took over as Bishop of Broome in 1995, has been under suspicion since 2020, when a series of allegations of sexual misconduct came to light.

The Australian authorities then began to investigate the complaints that same year, but shortly after the


Australian Prosecutor's Office

closed the case without bringing charges, according to the Australian public broadcaster ABC.

The case gained importance again last September, when Australian media leaked parts of a report by

the Vatican

that indicated that Saunders is suspected of sexually assaulting four teenagers and an unknown number of boys.

The report also revealed suspicions that the now former bishop potentially seduced 67 other boys and used Church funds to buy alcohol for Aboriginal youth while he held positions of authority.

In 2012, the Australian Government created a commission to investigate the response of public, religious, social, community and sporting institutions since the 1950s to allegations of pedophilia against tens of thousands of minors.

After five years of investigations, the commission found that these incidents constituted a

"national tragedy"

and ordered a series of compensations.

In the eye of the storm of these investigations was the Australian Catholic Church, where some 1,900 priests, priests and other members, including 93 senior officials, were linked to some 4,500 reports of sexual abuse against minors between 1980 and 2015.

One of the most prominent figures in Australia's Catholic Church to face allegations of child sexual abuse in the 1990s was the late Cardinal

George Pell

, the Vatican's former number three.

Pell was convicted in 2018 and later acquitted in 2020 by the country's High Court, after he spent 13 months in prison.