The news that former Havelock North school teacher Charles Harter, who was sentenced in 2014 to three years and four months in prison for molesting nine female pupils, is to be released on parole this month was always going to be met with outrage.

And so it has - our Facebook page is full of angry people. Some of the comments were perhaps a little too graphic in describing what they believe should be done to him. So much so that our team had to delete a few of them.

In its decision, the Parole Board said it was "satisfied on what we consider to be reasonable grounds that if Mr Harter is released he will not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community or any person or class of person".

These situations are always difficult for victims and their families, because the horrendous nature of the crime means they have a life sentence anyway, while the offender gets out on parole.


Some people are critical of the board and believe it gives offenders the benefit of the doubt. Often it does appear that there is an ideological difference in the way the board views sexual offenders compared with the general public.

The board seems to see rehabilitation of offenders, including sexual predators, as the first route to take, whereas popular opinion is that sexual offenders cannot be rehabilitated.

While it surely is not practical to lock every criminal up for good, it is probably fair to say that Harter being released 16 months into his sentence is probably a tad too soon.

I think the public would respect Parole Board decisions more if they felt that victims' rights and feelings were the top priority when parole was being considered.