Former Anglican dean jailed for raping boy in Australia

Graeme Lawrence speaks at a national inquiry into sexual abuse in 2016 Image copyright Royal commission
Image caption Graeme Lawrence speaks at a national inquiry into sexual abuse in 2016

A former Anglican Dean of Newcastle in Australia has been jailed for raping a 15-year-old boy in 1991.

Graeme Lawrence, now 77, is reported to be the second most senior Australian religious figure to be convicted of child sexual abuse, after Catholic Cardinal George Pell.

Lawrence was Anglican dean in the New South Wales city when he lured the boy to his home and raped him.

A court rejected Lawrence's assertion that he had never met his victim.

Judge Tim Gartelmann sentenced Lawrence to spend a maximum of eight years in jail, saying he had exploited his position of power to abuse the boy.

"The victim and his mother must have trusted him because he was the dean," Judge Gartelmann told the Newcastle District Court, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The court heard Lawrence had invited the boy to his home following a youth concert at Newcastle's Christchurch Cathedral.

He had forced the boy - who "was so scared he was shaking" - to the floor before raping him, the judge said on Thursday.

Lawrence served as dean for 24 years until 2008, but was defrocked by the Anglican church in 2012 after the abuse allegations came to light.

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Media captionChurch 'should emphasise prevention' in positions of trust

He will be eligible for parole after four-and-a-half years.

Pell, one of the Catholic Church's most senior figures, was jailed for six years in March after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s.

The former Vatican treasurer is waiting to learn whether his final bid to overturn his convictions will be heard by a court.