NSW MP Gareth Ward charged over alleged historical sexual assaults

nsw new south wales mp gareth ward
Image: NSW Parliament

Police have charged NSW MP and former Liberal minister Gareth Ward over the alleged historical sexual assault of a 17-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man.

On Tuesday, NSW Police charged the 40-year-old with three counts of assault with an act of indecency, and one count each of sexual intercourse without consent and common assault.

NSW Police will allege he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old boy at Meroo Meadow in February 2013.

Police are also alleging he sexually abused a 27-year-old man in Sydney in September 2015.

On Tuesday, Gareth Ward was granted conditional bail. He will appear at Port Kembla Local Court on May 18.

Ward said in response he is “completely innocent of the charges brought against me.”

“I am innocent, and I intend to prove it,” he said.

“While I strongly support the right of genuine victims to bring forward allegations, accused persons equally are entitled to the presumption of innocence, have the right to refute allegations made against them and should be allowed the opportunity to defend themselves from claims that are simply untrue.

“I have instructed my lawyers to use every available procedural avenue to bring this matter to trial as quickly as possible.”

Premier demands Gareth Ward resign as MP

Last May, NSW Police detectives set up a strike force to investigate sexual violence allegations.

That same month, Gareth Ward resigned from the government and moved to the crossbench. At the time, the MP revealed he was being investigated but denied any wrongdoing.

But on Tuesday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he now wants Ward to immediately resign from Parliament.

“While Mr Ward is entitled to the presumption of innocence, as any citizen is, the standards expected of an elected MP are not compatible with the seriousness of the charges he’s facing,” he said.

Perrottet said Ward “is entitled to defend himself against the serious charges against him”. But, he added, Ward “must do that as a private citizen.”

“I’ve therefore attempted to contact the Kiama MP to seek his resignation from the Parliament with immediate effect,” he said.

“Should Mr Ward not resign, the government will move a motion to remove him from the Parliament.”

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