Graeme Lawrence, Newcastle’s former Anglican Dean, has been given jail time for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy back in 1991.
The 77-year-old’s case marks Australia’s second most revered religious figure to be jailed for committing child sexual abuse. Last year, Catholic Cardinal George Pell was convicted after he was found guilty of sexually abusing young boys in the 1990s. Pell’s conviction was upheld by an Australian court after he appealed to the country’s high court.
At the time the heinous crime was committed, Lawrence was still the New South Wales city’s Anglican dean. The religious authority lured his victim in his home and raped him, as per the BBC News.
During his trial, Lawrence asserted that he and his victim have never met. The court ultimately rejected his assertion. Judge Tim Gartelmann sentenced the convicted predator to a jail sentence of eight years. Judge Gartelmann says that he had used his powerful position to abuse the minor. Giving his conviction to the Newcastle District Court, the judge said:
“The victim and his mother must have trusted him because he was the dean,” as quoted by the Australian Associated Press.
It was revealed in the courtroom last Thursday that Lawrence invited the young man over to his home after a youth concert was held at Newcastle’s Christchurch Cathedral. He then forced the boy to the floor before committing the heinous crime.
The religious leader served the aforementioned church for 24 years until 2008. It was only until 2012 that abuse allegations against him were publicized.