Anglican dean ‘gave court reference for priest accused of sex abuse’

The Australian

August 29, 2016

Crime reporterSydney

A former dean of Newcastle’s Anglican cathedral wrote a character reference for an alleged pedophile priest at the centre of a new police investigation, a royal commission has heard.

The reference was one of three provided by Graeme Lawrence for the criminal trials of alleged sex offenders within the NSW diocese, according to evidence before the Royal Commission into Instit­utional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mr Lawrence was himself later defrocked after having group sex with a teenager.

The former cathedral dean prepared the reference in about 2001, although the charges were ultimately “no-billed”, meaning prosecutors decided not to pursue the case.

The Newcastle diocese subsequently released a media statement falsely claiming that the priest, who cannot be named, had been acquitted, the commission has heard.

The priest moved to the Victorian diocese of Ballarat.

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