FORMER Newcastle Anglican Dean Graeme Lawrence has always had his supporters.
He could be a charming man - erudite, witty, a leader in Newcastle when the city needed it after the 1989 earthquake. His supporters, many some of the most powerful people in the community, were behind him all the way after he took Supreme Court action following professional misconduct hearings involving lurid sexual encounters with other priests and a vulnerable male.
His supporters were behind him again when the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established in November, 2012, and Lawrence's key role in keeping a lid on a number of child sex cases was laid bare.
Some of his supporters were behind an extraordinary letter to commission chair Justice Peter McClellan, a letter which led to some of the most heated exchanges between Justice McClellan and any witnesses who gave evidence during the commission's five years. It was a letter making astonishing allegations against the then Bishop Greg Thompson - the bishop not welcome in his own cathedral, who stood up for child sexual abuse survivors against the "mates looking after mates" culture of Newcastle Anglican diocese for decades.
Now Lawrence is a convicted child sex offender facing jail - defrocked, disempowered and on bail until he is sentenced in September. He is one of many once-powerful men in the Hunter - Catholic, Anglican, Christian, evangelical, former Department of Education and Community Service officials, a minister of the Crown - who presented one face in public, and another to the children they molested.
Outside Newcastle Courthouse on Friday, abuse survivor Steve Smith, who was grievously betrayed by Lawrence when he reported his abuse as an adult, wants Lawrence's Order of Australia Medal to be revoked. Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes has already acted, revoking Lawrence's freedom of the city status and withdrawing the Citizen of the Year award granted to the former Dean in 1997.
Graeme Lawrence was a powerful man who used his status in society and association with other powerful Novocastrians, some in the legal fraternity, to silence child sex victims. He represents a dark past. But there are many more who have spoken out for a better future.