Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Teacher on sex charges named

Maori head at Papatoetoe High accused of sex offences with young girls, grooming and supplying P

Damian Gillard now faces additional charges after several other alleged victims contacted police. Picture / Greg Bowker
Damian Gillard now faces additional charges after several other alleged victims contacted police. Picture / Greg Bowker

A man facing a raft of sex and drug-related charges in connection with seven young women can now be revealed as a senior teacher.

Name suppression has been lifted for Damian Christopher Gillard, 43, after an appeal hearing in the High Court at Auckland yesterday was abandoned.

He initially faced three criminal charges of grooming for sex, unlawful sexual connection with a child aged between 12 and 16 and offering to supply methamphetamine.

However, several other alleged victims have since come forward and Gillard now faces four additional charges of indecency with a girl aged 12-16, one of indecent assault, two further charges of offering to supply methamphetamine, two of supplying methamphetamine and one charge of assisting someone under 18 to supply sexual services.

"All the allegations are strongly denied," said defence lawyer Paul Wicks.

Gillard is the head of the te reo Maori department at Papatoetoe High School in South Auckland.

He has worked there for 10 years but was suspended in July when police notified the school of the pending criminal charges.

The Weekend Herald learned of the case after receiving a newsletter distributed by Papatoetoe High which said the senior staff member had been suspended.

"I believe it is important that I forewarn you. This will appear to be vague at the moment but what I am doing is being as open and transparent as I am able given the legal constraints that are in place," wrote principal Peter Gall.

Gillard did not have name suppression when he was charged but made an urgent application to protect his identity, occupation and address after being approached by the Weekend Herald.

The interim application was granted but then revoked by Judge Sharon MacAuslan after legal arguments in Pukekohe District Court.

At that time, police prosecutor Geoffrey Bardsley said there was no possibility of identifying the girl at the centre of the allegations and most people at the man's workplace were already aware of the charges.

The suppression orders were also preventing the police from speaking to other witnesses about the allegations, said Mr Bardsley.

"This is preventing other potential victims from coming forward, which we believe is realistic."

The suppression was sought by Mr Wicks on grounds of extreme hardship, particularly for his client's job prospects even if acquitted.

The police started an investigation after being approached by the grandmother of the girl at the centre of the case. The alleged offending happened in May and text messages between the pair led the police to arrest Gillard in early July.

Mr Gall has previously told the Herald he wanted the suppression to be lifted.

"We've done nothing wrong here. If it came out, for example, I'd much rather that (Gillard) be named than the finger of blame pointed at anyone else. That's the way I feel."

He said Gillard, who has worked for him for nearly 10 years, was suspended immediately after his arrest. His colleagues were then told, followed by the wider community.

Mr Gall said he visited the teacher two days after the charges were laid.

"There has been a mixture of emotions. He has done some good stuff and we're bitterly disappointed. I'm really angry for all sorts of reasons - quite pissed off actually, and really sad.

"We've known each other a long time and this has let a lot of people down."

- NZ Herald

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