A convicted sex offender has told the Parole Board he didn't realise the contact he had with his young victim was wrong until after he was found guilty and had reviewed notes from an earlier intervention programme he'd done.
Sean Surgeon, who has been convicted on two separate occasions for sexual offences against three young girls in 2006, 2014 and 2017, appeared before the board earlier this month.
The hearing caused outrage from the families of two of his victims, who said he shouldn't have been given a chance at parole given he had only recently been convicted for the 2014 offending and he hadn't finished his first sentence yet.
The families told the board they fear there are other victims out there. That's based on the fact he told police about the 9-year-old victim from 2006 while being questioned in 2017 - but failed to mention he'd also offended against a young girl in 2014.
There is also a suggestion in the latest Parole Board decision that the Hawke's Bay man may have offended in 2002.
In the decision, the board found there had not been any negative reports or misconduct from Surgeon during his time in prison and he was described in a 2018 psychological treatment report as a "motivated and engaged group member".
"However, on first assessment, he had minimised responsibility for his actions. In that report Mr Surgeon disclosed previous undetected offending that took place in 2002 that was reported to the police but he denied it. He did not disclose the 2014 offending."
The Board asked Surgeon why he had not disclosed the 2014 offending.
"He told us the he did not believe that the contact he had with that victim was sexual offending, and he did not even realise that when he had completed the Short Intervention Programme for Child Sex Offenders. He said that following conviction and reviewing his notes from the programme he had come to understand that was sexual offending".
The board has now asked for another psychological report to be done saying it was concerned the original one was "based on three possible offences and is seeking more information to confirm whether or not Mr Surgeon has in fact had sufficient rehabilitation".
"To that end we are asking for a psychological assessment. We ask that the psychologist comments on Mr Surgeon's current risk, that they comment on his treatment undertaken, and they comment on any further treatment needed. We also asked that the psychologist comments on Mr Surgeon's release proposal."
Surgeon was given a three-year-seven-month sentence in 2017 for the sexual violation of an 8-year-old girl earlier that year and for inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl in 2006.
A further 11 months was added to his sentence in June after the 2014 victim came forward and he was convicted on a charge of unlawful sexual connection.
He will be due for statutory release in October 2021 once both sentences have been served but will reappear before the board in February when the psychological report and possible accommodation options will be considered.
The parents of one of his victims told the board they were worried about him being released anywhere near them and asked that he is banned from going to
Hawke's Bay or Wellington.
"The preference is for the whole of the North Island (to be off limit). The victims also said that they believe Mr Surgeon will offend again and they are confident there are more
The mother of the 2017 victim told the Herald that was based on his history and failure to admit the 2014 case when asked in 2017 if there were other victims.
She said was glad his parole had been declined but shocked to learn that there may have been another possible victim in 2002. She only learnt about the 2014 victim after reading a decision last year when his parole was declined because of the new allegations.
"I'm happy he's not getting out but I also feel a deep sadness that there (could potentially be) another victim".
LATE 2006/EARLY 2007: He inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl while visiting the girl's home as a family friend. She never told anyone.
MARCH 2017: Sexually offended against an 8-year-old girl in a garden shed. She told her mother what happened straight away. It was only during the police investigation that he told police about the earlier incident.
JULY 2017: Sentenced to three years and seven months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to one charge of indecent assault and another of unlawful sexual connection.
JUNE 2018: Declined parole.
JUNE 2019: Declined parole.
OCTOBER 2019: Parole Board becomes aware of a third girl coming forward.
JUNE 2020: Sentenced to 11 months' imprisonment for the unlawful sexual connection with a girl in 2014.
SEPTEMBER 2020: Declined parole again and due to reappear before the board in February.