For 28 years Graeme Lawrence's words had haunted Ben Giggins:
"Don't bother telling anyone. You're just a boy and I am the Dean. No one will believe you."
Mr Giggins sat in a packed Newcastle District courtroom on Thursday and watched as Lawrence, who was once the second most senior Anglican cleric in Newcastle, was jailed for eight years for sexually assaulting him when he was 15.
Outside the court, Mr Giggins reached out to other sexual abuse victims who are worried no one will believe them if they speak up.
"[This case] shows people in powerful positions can't hide behind their positions...If there is anyone else out there come forward, don't be scared if someone has told you that you won't be believed," he said.
"Today and the last few months shows that people will believe you and it is fine to come forward."
For Mr Giggins, it was the Royal Commission into institutional abuse that gave him the confidence to reveal that he had been sexually assaulted by Lawrence, the former Anglican Dean of Newcastle, in the Christ Church Cathedral deanery in 1991.
During a judge alone trial he had to relive the horrific details of the rape because Lawrence had denied the assault or even knowing him.
The court heard Mr Giggins was helping a youth band to pack up equipment in the Cathedral on a Saturday or Sunday evening when Lawrence approached him and invited him back to the deanery on the premise that other young people had gathered there for a party that evening.
Upon arrival Lawrence took him into a room with framed photos of naked boys on the walls.
Lawrence, asked Mr Giggins if he liked the photos, to which he replied "no"'.
Lawrence then forced him to the ground and anally raped him.
Following the assault Lawrence warned Mr Giggins: "Don't bother telling anyone. You're just a boy and I am the Dean. No one will believe you."
That evening when he got home the teenager saw blood in his underpants and in the water in the shower.
He still felt the pain from the assault. He felt dirty no matter how much he washed.
He then cried himself to sleep.
Lawrence, now 77, was found guilty of indecent assault in circumstances of aggravation and sexual intercourse without consent in circumstances of aggravation.
He has already been stripped of his Freeman of City of Newcastle and Citizen of the Year Awards and victims' advocates have also called for him to be stripped of his Order of Australia award.
In settting a four-and-a-half year non-parole period to be served in protective custody, Judge Tim Gartlemann said the assault constituted a major abuse of the trust that had been placed in Lawrence as a church leader.
"The offences occurred when the victim was at a sensitive stage of development. It is unsurprising that their effects were not confined to his childhood but continued into adulthood and persist even now," he said.
Judge Gartlemann noted that church leaders, distinguished citizens and parishioners had provided references detailing Lawrence's achievements, contributions to the community and altruism.
He agreed that the assault was an aberration from prior good character but added his good character did not assist him in sentencing.
"Prior good character generally warrants mitigation in sentencing an offender," he said.
"However, the offender would not have held the position of dean but for this and his position assisted him to commit the offences.
"In these circumstances, his prior good character does not justify mitigation."
Mr Giggins, who chose to lift a suppression order on his identity, said the he felt an enormous weight lift from his shoulders when his finally spoke about the assault, firstly to his wife Jane and then to the police.
"We went through some up and down times, some dark days. When I did finally tell someone the weight that lifted off my shoulders was unbelievable," he said.
But the first step was the hardest.
"It was difficult. Right from the start I kept having in the back of my mind that no one will believe me. You're just a boy, it was 28 years ago. Who's going to believe you? It was just me," he said.
"It was a big step but it was one that I thought I had to take not just for me but for other victims as well."
"It was difficult. Right from the start I kept having in the back of my mind that no one will believe me....It was a big step but it was one that I thought I had to take not just for me but for other victims as well."Ben Giggins
He thanked the police, in particular Detective Sergeant Jeff Little,for their support.
"The police have been unbelievable; they helped every step of the way," he said.
Detective Little praised the honour and strength that Ben had shown throughout the ordeal.
"The price that Ben has paid and the social injustices that go with being offended by such a man in a powerful position as dean Graeme Lawrence was in cannot be ignored," he said.
"Certainly no longer should we say Graeme Lawrence OAM, the reality is he is now Graeme Lawrence CP, convicted paedophile."
Abuse survivor and victims' advocate Stephen Smith said he considered the sentence satisfactory and also praised the work of Detective Little.
"He is one of the unsung heroes in this town," Mr Smith, who was sexually abused by a priest protected by Lawrence, said.
"He has worked so hard to look out for people like myself and Ben and others and he really needs to be recognised for that."
Bishop of Newcastle Peter Stuart said he had personally apologised to Mr Giggins on behalf of the church.
"The sentence against Graeme Lawrence is a significant signal from the community; that child abuse cannot be accepted," he said.
I hope it brings to the man at the centre of this, the man who brought forward his concerns, the comfort and assurance that the community does not accept what occurred to him. Neither do we as the Anglican Church and the Diocese of Newcastle."
He also praised Mr Giggins' courage for reporting that Lawrence had assaulted him
"Ben is an amazingly courageous man. He has spoken with bravery and openness to bring his concerns before the courts in order that his situation could be properly heard and his offences properly treated." Bishop Stuart said.
"I have had an opportunity to express the regret of the Anglican Church to Ben and I do so publicly again. Ben and his family should have been able to come to an Anglican Church event in complete safety and go home rejoicing at a positive experience. He was denied that and the court today has said that is completely unacceptable."
The maximum penalty for Lawrence's offences increased significantly in March 1991.
Several key pieces of evidence submitted during the trial pointed to the assault occurring in the second half of that year.
"This evidence combines to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the offences must have been committed after the amendments became effective 17 March 1991," he said.
"The sentences should therefore be determined on the basis of the maximum penalties that then became applicable."
Judge Gartlemann noted Lawrence's medical conditions, which include, a depressive anxiety disorder, claustrophobia a mood disorder, Type 2 diabetes, urinary problems and hypertension, combined with his age, would make his time in custody difficult than it normally would be.
As such, he imposed a shorter non-parole period than would normally have been set.
"It is reasonable to expect the offender's age, poor physical health and mental health conditions will combine to make his experience of imprisonment more onerous," he said.
"The non-parole period will be substantially less than it would otherwise have been for these reasons. No lesser non-parole period would be adequate to fulfill the purposes of sentencing."
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