Predatory priest brought to justice

By 17 she had fallen pregnant, forced to adopt her baby out by her Catholic parents.

A year later, having left Sacred Heart, she enrolled at nursing school but struggled to deal with the trauma of losing her child.

A concerned tutor suggested she see a counsellor, did she know one?

Shelley did. Peter Hercock.

It was this encounter that led to the rape in the presbytery bedroom.

Plied with alcohol by the priest despite him knowing of her alcohol addiction, Shelley says when she was taken upstairs she “couldn’t feel her legs”.

Contact was broken off shortly after and 10 years later Shelley found herself in a violent marriage with three young children.

With no choice but to flee the fists of her husband, she ended up in a Red Cross shelter for the homeless.

Cramped in a tiny room with her children, Hercock again made contact.

He had left the priesthood, he told her, but was still happy to help.

One stormy night in 1984, Hercock snuck into Shelley’s window, climbed on top of her and raped her while her children slept nearby.

“I couldn’t make a racket because who wants that, I couldn’t risk the kids waking up.”