Former priest guilty of rape and indecent assault

In Wellington, Peter Hercock, a former priest, was jailed on Monday by Judge Bill Hastings for six years and seven months.

Hercock had earlier admitting two charges of rape, one of attempted rape and four of indecently assaulting a girl aged between 12 and 16.

Cardinal John Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington said that while justice had finally been done for the victims, the effect of Hercock’s offending on their lives was long-lasting and painful.

“Great harm was done to the victims by a person in a position of trust”, said Dew.  “We deeply regret that this ever happened.”

“Sexual abuse complainants who approach the Church are encouraged to take their complaint to the police.”

“For many this step is very difficult.”

“The courage of the victims of Peter Hercock in seeking justice through the courts is humbling and to be admired.”

The offending happened in the 1970s and 1980s in the Hutt Valley, Wellington, against four Sacred Heart College pupils.

It was premeditated, and in some cases involved girls been plied with alcohol.

Judge Hastings apologised to everyone present for the explicit details in the court summary of offending before he read through what Hercock did.

Hastings said Hercock had caused lasting emotional and psychological harm, but have him credit for remorse, participation in the church investigation, letters of apology, offer of reparation and guilty pleas.

“You were out of your depth,” the judge told Hercock.

“I accept that this may explain the context in which your actions took place but I do not accept that this excuses your actions in any way.”

“You may have been a naive, ill-prepared priest but you are also a human being.”

“There’s a bedrock of acceptable behaviour under which decent human beings do not go.”

“You knew what you were doing and knew it was wrong.”

“You stole from these women something that makes all of us more human — the ability to have lasting, satisfying, mutually supportive relationships.”

“You also stole their faith. There can be no greater hypocrisy for a priest.”

In 2003, a church process resulted in Ms Shelley receiving a $25,000 payment from the church. Two other victims received $31,000 and $30,000 respectively.

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News category: New Zealand.

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