The trusted staffer of a high-profile federal member of parliament has been charged over sexual offences allegedly committed against four women, one as young as 16 years old, in Sydney on Saturday.
Frank Zumbo, a long-time chief of staff to Liberal-turned-independent MP for Hughes Craig Kelly, was charged with nine counts of assault, two counts of aggravated sexual touching and seven counts of aggravated indecent assault of a victim under his authority.
Mr Zumbo was granted bail during an appearance at the Parramatta Local Court on Saturday after spending the night in jail.
NSW Police said a 16-year-old girl and three young women accused him of inappropriately touching them at work.
An investigation into Mr Zumbo's conduct was sparked in August 2020 when police received reports he had indecently assaulted the teenage girl, who was known to him. Other women then came forward to allege they had been assaulted by the same man.
Police will argue he sexually touched and indecently assaulted the girl and three women, aged 23, 26 and 27, on multiple occasions in the workplace between 2014 and 2020.
The period relates to his time as deputy commissioner of the South Australian small business commission, where he worked one day a week on a contract worth around $50,000 between 2012 and 2015. By 2016 he was employed as an office manager for Kelly.
Mr Kelly issued a statement on Saturday stating Mr Zumbo had been subject to innuendo for the last 12 months and every citizen was entitled to the presumption of innocence and the rule of law.
"I have spoken with Mr Zumbo and he advises that he categorically denies all accusations, and he will vigorously defend the matter," Mr Kelly wrote.
"The first time I became aware of them was when they were recently reported in the media, and the police have never at any time interviewed me in respected of these matters."
Mr Zumbo was arrested at Sutherland Police Station shortly before 6pm on Friday.
Mr Zumbo's ongoing employment in Mr Kelly's office amid the police investigations was a cause of concern to the Prime Minister's office.
In February, Mr Kelly rejected media reports Prime Minister Scott Morrison had demanded Mr Zumbo be replaced.