Man found guilty of abuse spanning three decades

By Imran Ali

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A Whangarei man has been found guilty of sexually abusing five girls over a period spanning more than three decades.

Frederick Solomon Erihe, 58, denied 16 historical sexual abuse charges which covered the years between 1969 and 2001 when the complainants were all under 16.

He chose to defend nine charges of indecent assault, four of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, two of attempted rape, and one of rape.

A jury in the Whangarei District Court returned guilty verdicts on all charges except on one charge of attempted rape and another of indecent assault.

The police investigation began in 2014 after a complainant went to Whangarei police station. A further four people were interviewed after that and said they had also been abused by Erihe.

Some witnesses gave evidence via closed-circuit television, while others had their recorded interviews with police played to the court.

The jury also heard from a clinical psychologist, who was an expert in child abuse, about the reason why there are delays in reporting abuse when children are involved.

In her brief address to the jury, Justice Anne Hinton told them not to do research about the case on the internet and to keep an open mind about it. She told them not to discuss the case with anyone apart from fellow jurors and to come to their verdicts solely on the evidence before the court.

They should not think anything adverse against Erihe based on the fact the complainants would give their evidence via closed-circuit television or that Erihe had a security escort inside court.

The case was a retrial after a jury last August failed to reach verdicts on most of the historical sex charges laid against him. Then a jury of 10 women and two men found Erihe guilty on two charges of doing an indecent act and not guilty on one charge of assault on a child, but could not reach verdicts on the charges he has since been found guilty of.

Erihe has been remanded in custody for sentencing on June 23.

- Northern Advocate

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