The Blenheim teacher jailed for sexually abusing two schoolboys over more than a year in what was described as "gross" offending will soon be released from prison.
In December last year Jaimee Marie Cooney - the wife of a police officer and mother of two - was sentenced in the Blenheim District Court to two years and six months in jail for her offending.
She is understood to be the first female teacher in New Zealand convicted and sentenced for sexual offending against students.
Following a Parole Board hearing she will be freed after spending about a year behind bars.
Cooney pleaded guilty to a raft of charges relating to two teenage boys who she sexually abused, often in cars parked in public places, and in school lunch breaks.
Judge Tony Zohrab said the offending was "a gross breach of trust".
"Your role was a pastoral one ... you have seriously compromised your obligations," he said.
Cooney did not dispute having sexual relationships with other older boys - but only faced charges in relation to two victims.
She became eligible for parole on October 17 and appeared before the board last month.
At that hearing her lawyer claimed some of the treatment Cooney needed in relation to her offending and rehabilitation was not available to her behind bars.
Cooney thanked the board for seeing her and said she was realistic about the situation.
"I totally acknowledge I can't get full well on my own," she said.
"I have done some work but I know that I need treatment - but I have been told on numerous occasions that I will not receive it in prison.
"I'm open and willing to any treatment."
One of Cooney's supporters also spoke to the board.
"We've been by Jaimee's side since last year - it's been a long road … obviously a lot of public interest in this.
"We're ready for (her) to come home … we're all prepared to muck in and do our bit.
"We've been here for Jaimee the whole time and we'll continue that - whatever conditions you guys put in place we're willing to abide by that."
Cooney appeared before the board for a second time today and they agreed to release her.
She will be subject to a number of strict conditions.
The full decision of the board, including the specifics of the conditions, will not be released until the victims have been given the details.
'I didn't want to do it' - two children abused by their teacher
In December the Herald attended Cooney's sentencing, where details of her extensive offending were revealed in full for the first time.
She pleaded guilty to seven charges of unlawful sexual connection with minors, and one of exposing a minor to indecent material over a year-long period.
Some of the charges were representative, meaning the acts happened numerous times.
She was a teacher at Marlborough Boys' College at the time but has since had her teaching registration cancelled.
Cooney admitted having sex with two 15-year-old boys in parked cars in public places, often telling one victim she loved him and showing them explicit videos.
The police summary of facts, supplied to the Herald by the court, revealed the woman had formed sexual relationships "with a number of students".
The prosecution relates to two of those boys.
At sentencing Crown Prosecutor Mark O'Donoghue said there were a number of aggravating factors, including the vulnerability of victims, age discrepancy between Cooney and her victims, and duration of offending.
"She's gone out of her way to target them in a sexually exploitative way," he said.
"There was a significant breach of trust, [she] attempted to manipulate, coerce and control the victims with threats of self harm.
"This was sexually exploitative conduct by an adult ... she emotionally manipulated both boys."
Cooney's sentencing lawyer Jonathan Eaton said his client was still struggling to comprehend and articulate why she offended.
"But the clear message is that she does take full responsibility for her offending," he said.
She wrote a letter intended for the victims, school and wider community.
In it she stated she was aware of the impact her offending - described as "disgusting" by locals - had on her town.
"I make no excuses for what I have done and I am here today to face the victims and the community," she wrote.
"I am ready to do that."
At sentencing Judge Zohrab was firm and sent a clear message to Cooney.
"You were a teacher ... this is not a situation of you being a young female teacher ... you were a mature woman, you had a senior leadership role in the community," he said.
"Parents were sending their children to the college to be educated and nurtured ... you have breached that trust."
Further, he said the woman used her mental health to manipulate the boys.
The abuse was "demeaning".
"Effectively there was grooming and premeditation on your part over a long period of time," Judge Zohrab said.
After sentencing the school conceded it had effectively mishandled concerns relating to Cooney.
SEXUAL HARM - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:
• Text 4334 and they will respond
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.