Disgraced deputy principal to return to court

By Peter De Graaf -
James Parker. Photo / TVNZ
James Parker. Photo / TVNZ

Disgraced former Pamapuria School deputy principal James Parker appeared in the Kaitaia District Court yesterday for a seven-hour hearing - but the details of what was said can't be published.

He will be back in court on April 10, when he may proceed to sentencing or elect a trial.

In August last year, the 38-year-old pleaded guilty to 49 charges of sexually abusing boys during sleepovers at his Awanui farm.

Publicity about the case, which rocked the small Pamapuria community where Parker had been held in high regard, prompted more complainants to contact police and the laying of 25 fresh charges. That included five allegations of sexual violation involving two boys, the most serious charges he has faced.

Parker has yet to enter a plea to the new charges. He has been in custody since his arrest in June and is in Ngawha Prison.

In all, the allegations involve 20 victims, aged 9 to 16 at the time, with the alleged offences taking place between 1999 and 2012.

An independent report ordered by the commissioner now running Pamapuria School found Parker had used his charm and influence as deputy principal and kapa haka tutor to befriend families and host boys at his farm. The alleged abuse occurred when Parker and the boys would sleep "marae-style" on mattresses in the lounge.

Police first investigated Parker in 2009 but had to drop the case when the boy withdrew his complaint. Instead, police sent former principal Stephen Hovell a letter saying sleepovers were inappropriate and had to stop.

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