A former Liberal minister will stand trial over historical sexual and indecent assault allegations. Gareth Ward, former NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Nowra Local Court on Friday.
In May 2021, Gareth Ward identified himself as the subject of an inquiry by the NSW Police child abuse and sex crimes squad. He then resigned from his portfolio and moved to the cross-bench. In March 2022, police charged Ward with three counts of indecent assault, one count of sexual intercourse without consent, and one of common assault.
Police alleged that he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old youth in February 2013 and then sexually abused a 27-year-old man in Sydney in September 2015.
On Friday, the former minister pleaded not guilty to the five charges. He will face a Sydney court next month.
In September 2017, Ward claimed two men attempted to blackmail him after he booked a massage during a stay at a New York hotel. Although various media outlets described the requested service as a ‘special massage’, Gareth Ward insisted to the ABC that he ordered a standard service.
“The claims requesting a special massage are untrue. I requested a normal massage as people on holidays will often do.”
He said that two men consequently arrived at his room offering sexual services. Ward claimed the pair became aggressive when he declined their offer. They also started to film him. He said he had partially undressed ahead of their arrival in anticipation of the massage.
“They said to me, ‘We’re underage. We’ll put this on the internet unless you give us money’.
“I said, ‘I didn’t order this, get out of my room, I want you to leave, I don’t have any cash’.”
Gareth Ward said he escaped the men by pretending he would get them money from an ATM but headed straight to the front desk and alerted hotel staff. No charges were ever laid over the incident.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.