CV NEWS FEED // Child abuse detectives conducted a search of the house previously occupied by former Catholic Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, Australia on Monday.
Local ABC Network reports say two police cars and five unmarked vehicles were parked outside the bishop’s prior residence, and that several storage containers were taken inside the home which had been occupied by the cleric until last year.
“Child Abuse Squad detectives are in Broome as a part of an ongoing investigation into historic child sex offences,” a spokesperson told the media outlet.
Investigations against Saunders began in 2020 following accusations of sexual misconduct against four young Aboriginal men, and the grooming of at least 64 others.
Local police dropped the case after a year without making charges, but the Vatican launched its own canonical Vos estis lux mundi investigation in 2022. Last year, the Vatican handed over its own 200 page report to the Australian police, parts of which had been leaked to local news outlets.
According to local news outlets who obtained fragments from the Vatican’s report, Saunders allegedly “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars grooming vulnerable young Aboriginal males by plying them with gifts of alcohol, telephones, cash and travel.”
One of the young men mentioned in the report said he met Saunders at a barbeque and later came to his house upon invitation to do gardening work for the former bishop.
The alleged victim said Saunders offered him use of his shower after he finished the work. He claims the former bishop then got in the shower with him and touched him inappropriately.
“I was scared,” the victim said, “He was a big fella and I was just a teenager at the time.”
Other alleged victims claim Saunders hosted male-only “Bunga-Bunga” parties, where he would demand that the young men remove their clothes, and proceed to kiss and grope them.
The Vatican maintained in its clarifications since the release of the report that none of the accusations against Saunders involved victims who were under the age of 18.
The bishop has continued to deny wrongdoing and has yet to be formally charged.