A FORMER Dean of Newcastle, in New South Wales, Graeme Lawrence, has been convicted of the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy in the deanery in 1991.
Mr Lawrence, who was unfrocked in 2012 after the diocese of Newcastle’s professional standards board found him guilty of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, was convicted in a judge-alone trial in the district court. His conditional bail has been continued until his sentencing in September.
The charges against Mr Lawrence, to which he pleaded not guilty, were that he had invited the boy back to the deanery after a youth-band performance in Newcastle Cathedral, and had then assaulted him. Judge Tim Gartelmann told the court that he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt.
The Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Peter Stuart, responded by apologising on behalf of the Anglican Church. “We’ve heard today in court the summary of a terrible set of events for a young man who was involved in a church activity and was indecently assaulted, and it has affected his life,” he said. “He was entitled to be kept safe, and he wasn’t.”
Mr Lawrence was Dean of Newcastle from 1984 until his retirement in 2008. During that time, he had a high profile both in the city of Newcastle and in the national Church. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1998 for his part in the restoration of the cathedral after damage caused by an earthquake in 1989. Abuse survivors are now calling for the honour to be reviewed.