A man accused of serious child sex offences was able to work as a real estate agent and run open homes in Auckland while awaiting trial.
A watchdog tried to cancel the man's licence when a police vet showed he was accused of indecency and facing 12 criminal charges.
But despite awaiting trial for molesting one of the victims, the cancellation was overturned by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal on appeal and his licence reinstated.
Jason Mark O'Reilly's former employer is now questioning why licensing officials never alerted him to the serious allegations his agent faced.
And a relative of one of the victims has criticised authorities for allowing O'Reilly to keep selling homes until he was finally put behind bars for abusing a child.
"I have witnessed the impact that this crime has had upon my family and myself, it is horrendous and to watch [the girl's] demise is heartbreaking," she told the Real Estate Authority [REA] in a 2017 letter.
"I would hate to think that Jason could facilitate the sale of a property which is entrusted to him by vendors who may have children."
O'Reilly was jailed for 12 years in 2017 for repeatedly violating a vulnerable child and exposing himself to another young girl. He was convicted of 18 charges, including sexual violation and indecent assault.
The judge described O'Reilly - who had permanent name suppression - as a high risk, untreated sex offender.
O'Reilly lost an appeal against his sentence late last month and the Crown successfully challenged the suppression order because the victims wanted him to be named.
He had argued identification as a child sex offender would put him at risk in prison.
The Herald has followed the case since 2017 but can only now report O'Reilly's identity or that he worked as a licensed agent.
One of O'Reilly's victims revealed the abuse in 2016 and a police investigation was launched.
The REA cancelled O'Reilly's licence later that year for failing to disclose he was under police investigation and facing pending charges.
But his licence was reinstated by the tribunal in December 2016, after it ruled O'Reilly had not misled the watchdog.
He was then employed by Harvey's Real Estate in Papakura.
Branch principal Darren Brady told the Herald he was aware O'Reilly faced criminal charges at the time but thought they related to a relationship issue.
The firm felt O'Reilly deserved a "fair hearing" and chose to support him after taking advice from police and the REA.
O'Reilly was listing and selling properties, which included running open homes.
Brady said he would never have given O'Reilly a job had he realised the severity of the charges. He questioned how O'Reilly had been allowed to keep his licence while awaiting trial and why Harvey's had not been informed by authorities.
"That is a cock up."
When Harvey's learned of the child sex allegations, O'Reilly was stripped of his listings and left the company soon after.
Speaking earlier to the Herald, Detective Steve Wilson said he personally notified the REA about the police investigation before O'Reilly went to trial.
"They were certainly aware of the charges and particular bail conditions."
When the victim's relative learned O'Reilly was back selling homes, she wrote to the REA in February 2017.
In a letter titled, "High Importance - Re: Jason O'Reilly Sexual Assault Case", she raised concerns about him continuing to carry out real estate work.
Agents were required to make full disclosure during property negotiations, she said.
"Why then is full disclosure less important when it comes to a sales consultant pending trial for serious sexual crimes against a minor?"
Speaking to the Herald, she said she was stunned O'Reilly had been able to continue working despite repeated alerts to authorities.
"They were warned by a number of people and didn't take heed.
"We tried to keep people safe."
REA chief Kevin Lampen-Smith declined to comment on whether it was appropriate for O'Reilly to have worked as an agent while facing child sex charges.
The watchdog took action to cancel O'Reilly's licence in August 2016 but this was overturned by the tribunal "due to the presumption of innocence".
REA sought further information about the charges O'Reilly faced from a district court but was declined "on privacy grounds".
"In making any decision, REA must balance its role in protecting consumers, with natural justice for the licensee involved," Lampen-Smith said.
"The tribunal's decision was clear and, therefore, REA needed to wait for a conviction. At which point, REA moved quickly."
O'Reilly's licence was immediately cancelled after he was convicted.
In a 2017 Herald interview, O'Reilly maintained his innocence and said the allegations had destroyed his life.
"There's no truth to them whatsoever. Everybody should be given the opportunity to still be deemed an innocent person till otherwise proven.
"It's the worst thing I could ever, ever imagine to have anybody go through and unfortunately I'm bearing the brunt of it all."
O'Reilly will be eligible for parole in 2023.
• February 22, 2016: O'Reilly completes REA online licence renewal application which includes a police vetting authority form.
• June 3, 2016: The police advise REA of an outstanding indecent act charge.
• August 3, 2016: Police advise REA of 12 additional charges.
• August, 4, 2016: REA advises O'Reilly of its intention to cancel his licence.
• September 6, 2016: REA advises O'Reilly his licence is cancelled for failing to disclose he'd been under police investigation with pending charges.
• September 8, 2016: REA requests more information from district court but is declined on privacy grounds.
• November 2, 2016: O'Reilly appeals licence cancellation to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal.
• December 2016: Tribunal upholds O'Reilly's appeal and overturns licence cancellation.
• Early 2017: O'Reilly employed at Auckland indoor sports centre and Harvey's Real Estate in Papakura.
• November 6, 2017: O'Reilly convicted on 18 child sex charges and remanded in custody.
• November 9, 2017: REA declines O'Reilly's licence renewal, ruling he is not a fit and proper person.
• December 6, 2017: O'Reilly jailed for 12 years.
It's up to employers to ask potential workers if they have any criminal convictions but it is also prudent to ask whether they have any criminal charges pending, an employment expert says.
'If an employer doesn't ask the question directly the employee is not obligated to disclose it," Dundas Street employment lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk told the Herald.
While a criminal conviction could be grounds to sack a worker, charges pending the outcome of a criminal trial were more complex.
An employer had to balance an employee's right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence with the charges an employee faced and whether they posed an "inherent risk" when considered against the employee's job.
If a risk did arise an employer could potentially take action, such as suspending the employee on full pay.
"In this case the question is whether the employee's job as a real estate agent provides him with access to women and young girls such that the employer could justifiably say, 'I need to suspend or take action pending the outcome of the criminal case'.
"In this case the real estate agent is in a special position of access to people's private homes and in that regard would have access to young girls.
"This could raise legitimate concerns for the employer who would have obligations to keep clients sale. This is not prejudging the outcome of the criminal case but taking steps to address the potential risk."