How abuser kept on offending

By Peter de Graaf

Parker, the former deputy principal of Pamapuria School, 10km south of Kaitaia, is awaiting sentence on 49 sexual abuse charges. Photo / File
Parker, the former deputy principal of Pamapuria School, 10km south of Kaitaia, is awaiting sentence on 49 sexual abuse charges. Photo / File

Northland teacher James Parker was able to continue his offending against young boys partly because of his close relationship with his principal and his role as deputy principal and kapa haka leader, a report has found.

Parker, the former deputy principal of Pamapuria School, 10km south of Kaitaia, is awaiting sentence on 49 sexual abuse charges.

He was due to be sentenced next Thursday, but that is likely to be delayed due to fresh complaints since his crimes became public.

An independent report, released yesterday, aimed to find out why the school failed to keep its children safe and what could be done to prevent other cases. It is separate from the ongoing police investigation.

It found warning flags had been raised several times since Parker started teaching at Oturu School in Kaitaia in 1998, including about his habit of showering with boys staying at his home or sharing a bed with them "marae-style".

There was no evidence offences had occurred at school.

Sometimes unusual behaviour was accepted because Parker had an adult girlfriend so people assumed he was safe with young boys. Others thought he wasn't a risk because children stayed overnight with their parents' permission.

Parker's closeness to some families and his mana as kapa haka leader made it hard for people to suspect or accuse him. Others felt their concerns would not be acted on because he was close to principal Stephen Hovell.

Before 2012, the closest Parker came to prosecution was in 2009 when a boy told his sister about the abuse. She told her mother, who went to police. Two other boys were named as victims. However, one said nothing had happened and the two others retracted their allegations.

Detective Dean Gorrie of Kaitaia CIB could not lay charges but wrote Mr Hovell a sternly worded letter about Parker's sleepovers, saying they had to stop immediately.

It was not clear whether the letter was read in full to the school board of trustees, which was given only limited information by Mr Hovell.

The 37-page report was prepared by Auckland lawyer Robin Arthur.

- APN

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