NSW MP Gareth Ward has been charged by NSW Police over allegations of historic indecent assault and sexual abuse.
Ward is an Independent MP and a former Liberal frontbencher for Kiama. He previously identified himself as being under investigation by NSW Police in May 2021.
He denied any wrongdoing at the time and has now confirmed he’ll defend the charges.
“I am innocent and I intend to prove it,” he wrote in a statement as per 9News.
“I have instructed my lawyers to use every available procedural avenue to bring this matter to trial as quickly as possible.
“There is much more I would like to say but on the strict advice of my lawyers and out of respect for our system of justice, I will not be making any further comment at this time.”
Ward’s been charged with one count each of common assault and sexual intercourse without consent. He’s also been charged with three counts of assault with act of indecency.
In court NSW Police will allege that he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old boy at Meroo Meadow in February 2013 and sexually abused a 27-year-old man in Sydney in September 2015.
Gareth Ward has been granted conditional bail.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet called for Gareth Ward to resign in a statement.
He said that while Ward is entitled to presumption of innocence, “the standards expected of an elected Member of Parliament are not compatible with the seriousness of the charges he is facing.
Perrottet said he’d discussed the situation with Paul Toole, who’s the Acting Premier while Perrottet is on paternity leave.
He also confirmed that if Gareth Ward didn’t resign, the Government will move a motion to remove him from Parliament. Plus, Perrottet said he’d written to the State Director of the NSW Liberal Party about the situation.
Perrottet requested “that Mr Ward be suspended from the Party pending the outcome of the criminal trial against him”.
“Mr Ward is entitled to defend himself against the serious charges against him but he must do that as a private citizen.”
Ward stepped down as Liberal Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services and joined the crossbench when he was first under investigation last May.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.