The walls of silence and secrecy that long surrounded the Diocese of Newcastle began to crack in December 2010, when Joanne McCarthy revealed the "disciplinary proceedings" against Lawrence, his life partner Greg Goyette, and three other priests, over matters cryptically described by the church at the time as "have(ing) to do with breaches of trust and maintenance of standards and quality of pastoral relationships".
We later learned these bland euphemisms masked allegations from the Riverina Diocese before Lawrence arrived in Newcastle in 1984, of clerical group sex and three years of sexual interactions with a boy who was allegedly 14 when his abuse began.
FURTHER READING: The Herald's Shine The Light investigations
On paper, Lawrence's position as dean made him the second most senior Anglican in the diocese, but he held more sway than that.
To Roger Herft, Newcastle bishop from 1993 to 2005, Lawrence's "huge influence" extended to the broader community. For Herft's successor, Brian Farran, Lawrence was "the most influential priest in the diocese" even after his 24 years as dean.
Lawrence is a man who was highly respected in and out of the church. His homosexuality - while not openly proclaimed - was widely assumed and accepted, while his confidence, charisma, conviviality and outward kindness made him a popular and much-loved figure.
But in reality, Lawrence was the epitome of the society paedophile hiding in plain sight, the fox in the hen-house who cowed his own victims into silence, and who used his position and power to protect other paedophile priests when complaints were lodged to the diocese.
Thanks to the extraordinary fortitude of his accuser, Ben Giggins, the 77-year-old Lawrence has been finally brought to book.
He may yet lodge an appeal, but whatever happens from here, the scales have fallen from everyone's eyes, and nothing will put them back.
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