Former Catholic priest faces historic sex charges

By Jonathan Carson
June 08, 2015

Peter Hercock has appeared in the Nelson District Court but has yet to plea to historic sex charges.

A former Catholic priest, now living in Nelson, has been charged with historic sex offences, including indecently assaulting young girls and rape. 

Peter Joseph Hercock, 71, a former chaplain at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt and administrator at a Nelson school, appeared in the Nelson District Court last week. 

He is charged with two counts of rape, five counts of indecently assaulting girls aged under 16, assault and unlawfully entering a building. 

He is yet to enter a plea. 

All of the charges relate to alleged offending in the 1970s and 80s in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Wainuiomata. 

Most of the alleged offending occurred while Hercock was chaplain at the single-sex girls' school. 

Hercock is charged with raping a former Sacred Heart College pupil in 1974 and again in 1984 when she was 18 and 28, according to court documents. 

He allegedly indecently assaulted the same girl by rubbing her back and thighs with his hand when she was 15, in 1971. 

In 1972, Hercock allegedly indecently assaulted another girl three times when she was 13 by attempting to have sex with her, attempting to perform another sexual act and making her sit on his lap. 

He's also charged with assaulting the 13-year-old girl by slapping her in the face. 

A third complainant alleges Hercock indecently assaulted her by massaging her between 1973-75. 

Hercock left the priesthood in 1981. 

In July 2003, the Catholic Church paid out $25,000 to a former pupil of the school after she claimed she was sexually abused by Hercock, then talked into having sex with him in the 70s, when she was 18. 

At the time, Detective Shane Dye, formerly of the Wellington Child Abuse team, said police had received complaints from two women who had earlier complained to the church, but charges could not be laid because of restrictions in the Crimes Act. 

The woman who received the payout from the church said she began seeing Hercock for counselling when she was 14. 

In 2004, aged 48, she said she had "trusted him completely" at the time and his conduct "moved from harmless to harmful so quickly". 

The Catholic Church said, in 2004, that it had received three complaints about Hercock's alleged sexual misconduct. 

After leaving the church, Hercock married and moved to Nelson. 

In 1991, he went into an administrative role at a Nelson school, but left in 1993 when staff became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct. 

In June 2004, Nelson police obtained a DNA sample from Hercock. 

At the time, Detective Lex Bruning said: "We're not talking to him about criminal activity, just to say he was a person of interest. 

"He has been living in Nelson for some time. We have no concerns but wanted to know his current employment given his history." 

Bruning said the DNA sample was a routine request often made by police to "people of interest" and Hercock was cooperative. 

Hercock is listed as the owner of Monaco Business Services, which provides coaching and workshops for businesses in Nelson. 

He was released on bail on Tuesday and is to reappear in court on June 23.


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