The Blenheim teacher who admitted sexually abusing two schoolboys may be released from prison on parole next month - less than a year after she was jailed for her "gross" offending.
And today she told the Parole Board she knew she needs treatment and was willing to do whatever it took to rehabilitate.
Jaimee Marie Cooney will become eligible for parole on October 17 and appeared before the board today.
She was seeking early release from prison but a crucial psychologist's report had not been completed for the board and the hearing had to be adjourned.
Cooney will appear before the board for a full hearing early next month.
In December 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.
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.
This afternoon she appeared before a Parole Board panel led by convenor Kathryn Snook.
Several supporters joined her at the prison where she is serving her time for the short hearing, conducted via audio visual link.
Her lawyer told the board that Cooney had "thrived and grown" in jail and been "a model prisoner".
"She has taken every opportunity made available to her," the lawyer said.
"Without complaint, and with total acceptance of the need for her to serve her time."
The lawyer claimed some of the treatment Cooney needed in relation to her offending and rehabilitation was not available to her behind bars.
And without a psychological report that had been ordered by the board, Cooney was realistic about her chance of being granted parole today.
Snook said the report would be available by the end of October and was crucial to the board's final decision as it would outline risk assessment and treatment details.
She acknowledged Cooney's "positive features" but parole was simply not a possibility today.
"We don't know what the psychologist is going to say, and you are untreated in some aspects," she said.
"I am not sure I agree with (your lawyer) that there is no treatment for you in prison.
"(Parole) will depend on what the psychologist says and what the next (panel) makes of the offending and what's planned."
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."
'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."
O'Donoghue read from the main victim's impact statement.
"She made me worry about her as when I tried to stop what was happening she told me she would harm herself … this is not fair, she should not have put that burden on me," he wrote in the brief statement.
The second victim said in his statement: "I am ashamed."
He said when he tried to stop the abuse the woman locked herself in a car and started cutting herself with scissors.
"I did not want to do it any more," he said.
The boys were not in court for the sentencing.
O'Donoghue said both came from families and cultural backgrounds where they were "private and reserved".
"It's hard to say stop to a person in authority, and it's even harder to stop it once it's started," he said.
In a letter to the court Cooney referred to herself as a "sex offender".
"And that is what she is," O'Donoghue said.
Radich did not respond to the Herald's request for that letter.
The court heard it was meant for the community but it was not shared publicly in full.
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."
Eaton submitted the offending was "not degrading".
But Judge Zohrab called him out - saying surely a 15-year-old boy being involved in a three-way sex act in a car "with someone old enough to be his mother" had to be at least demeaning.
"I don't see that as vanilla sex," the judge said.
Eaton said the only aggravating factor was the boys' age.
He said they were big athletes and there was no degree of physical intimidation by their then teacher.
Judge Zohrab interrupted him and pointed out that might have been the case but they had "bodies of men, minds of children".
Eaton said the woman was not a classroom teacher for either of the boys but he accepted her breach of trust was "up there".
The woman's second defence lawyer Miriam Radich spoke about her "long-running struggles with mental illness".
She said the woman had done "her very best" to signal her genuine remorse and would continue to do so in future.
The offending would weigh heavily on her mind for the rest of her life, her lawyer said.
Radich read from the offender's letter.
"I would like to express my deep regret to the victims and their families … you were students and I was the teacher," she wrote.
"I am deeply sorry I have hurt you and brought shame to your families.
"It was only me that was in the wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed of."
She said she was "so sorry" the school had suffered because of her offending.
Radich said she would "for a long time" be "defined by and identified for" her offending.
However, those who knew her were totally shocked and the offending went against everything they knew of her and her wider family's values.
She had no previous convictions, had excelled at uni and in her career and was known - before the offending came to light - as a community-minded and highly contributing member of society.
Radich said the woman's husband stood by her.
In 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.
At sentencing Cooney was supported by her sister and a group of friends.
They sat at listened as the court heard she started to send the first victim text messages when he was just 14.
The pair spent increasing amounts of time together and became "flirty".
Eventually the relationship became sexual, with the teacher leading the boy into escalating intimate activity.
When he tried to end the "relationship" she would tell him she would kill herself.
She would send him explicit photographs and video-called him from her home, exposing her breasts and genitals.
The abuse of the second boy began when the first victim engaged him in an online chat with him and the teacher.
The three had a sexual connection the next day and the abuse of the second victim continued after that.
When arrested, the sex offender refused to speak to police.
The Herald sought an interview with Blenheim police about the offending, arrest and prosecution which has been extremely high profile.
Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan refused.
"Marlborough police will not be making any comment on this," he said via email.
"Media from police if any will come from the police media hub."
The Herald then sought comment from Police National Headquarters.
"I have now had an opportunity to speak with the appropriate staff regarding this matter," a spokeswoman said.
"I can advise that police won't be making any comments following the sentencing for this matter."
They refused to say if new complainants had come forward and made allegations or if further charges relating to other boys were likely.
of the school when the woman's offending took place has recently resigned and he did not respond to requests for comment.
However, the board of trustees chairman later provided a statement conceding the school had effectively mishandled concerns relating to Cooney.
Further he said had the concerns been acted on properly, she could have been stopped months earlier.
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.