By THERESA GARNER
A tutor already jailed once for abusing one of his male pupils has been found guilty of violating another young student after lying about his criminal background to land a job teaching life skills to teenagers.
The case has again raised questions about the vetting procedures for teachers.
David Robert Nicholson, aged 46, of Mt Wellington, was found guilty last Friday night of three counts of sexually violating a 17-year-old boy after wining and dining him and buying him new clothes.
Nicholson had been a tutor at an Auckland training institute for six months before being sacked over the sexual assault.
Despite his two previous jail terms for sex attacks on teenage boys, the institute, which teaches work and life skills, told the Herald it was unaware Nicholson was a convicted offender when he was hired, claiming he lied on his CV.
In 1995, Nicholson, at the time the Wellington Rugby Union's marketing manager, was jailed for 18 months after admitting to indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy. Nicholson had served a 10-month sentence seven years earlier for indecent acts on boys.
Last Friday, after a three-day trial in the Papakura District Court, the jury rejected Nicholson's defence that the sex was consensual and found him guilty of three counts of sexual violation and not guilty of one other.
Judge Roderick Joyce, QC, remanded him in custody, and the Herald understands the Crown may seek a term of preventive detention for the man police described as a sexual predator, who took jobs which gave him easy access to young men.
The court heard how Nicholson singled out the teenager soon after he arrived in the institute class last year.
On August 27 Nicholson took him to a mall, where he bought the student a $40 shirt before taking him to a Mission Bay restaurant. The same night they went to the trots, where they gambled and drank.
The pair went back to Nicholson's house, where the teacher made his move, asking the boy to join him in bed.
The court heard the teenager was "confused and unsure what to do" but "after persistence" got into bed with his clothes on.
The prosecution said the tearful boy, paralysed with fear, buried his face in a pillow while Nicholson performed sexual acts on him. Nicholson also took photographs of his naked prey.
The Crown said the boy did not flee because he was scared that the teacher would jeopardise his chance to get into the Army. But Nicholson's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, argued that it meant the sex was consensual.
There were further trips the next day when the pair shopped for a bone carving, and dined out.
Back at Nicholson's house that night, the boy repelled renewed sexual advances. The pair went to breakfast the next morning before Nicholson dropped the boy home.
In class, when other students noticed Nicholson's flirtatious behaviour, the boy told his friends about the weekend. The next day the student failed to show up at the institute and Nicholson called him at home 14 times.
The defence argued that the boy spent a "fun weekend" experimenting with his sexuality, but feared he would be exposed and cried sexual assault to save his "straight reputation."
He even wore the new clothes to his course for two days, like a signal to his lover.
But the court also heard that Nicholson's routine with the boy was not unusual. A prosecution witness testified that more than a decade ago he was befriended by Nicholson, plied with alcohol and ultimately sexually abused.
The man, who in 1988 was a 15-year-old pupil at Kapiti College, where Nicholson was teaching, told how he leaped from a window shortly after Nicholson had molested him.
In the latest case, Nicholson admitted in a video interview with police that he might have taken advantage of the situation.
"He saw me as a bit of a role model, a father figure. Maybe I let him down, maybe it's not what he wanted."
The present principal of Kapiti College, John Russell, said Nicholson was dismissed over the 1988 incident.
While it is understood that Nicholson has not taught at a school since, he managed to easily get the job working with youngsters at the Auckland institute by claiming on his application that he had been overseas writing a book.
A manager at the institute said hiring procedures had been tightened but they were yet to include criminal checks.
The Government intends to introduce legislation bringing in criminal checks for school staff and will consider extending the laws to include other Government-paid courses.