A 17-year-old Auckland schoolboy is before the courts on a series of rape charges - and could face more.
The teenager appeared in the Youth Court this week after his recent arrest.
The Herald cannot identify the teenager as young people appearing in the Youth Court have automatic name suppression.
However, his case may be transferred to the District Court due to the seriousness and volume of charges.
The presiding Youth Court judge allowed the Herald to report the basic facts of the case but the specifics of the charges cannot be published at this stage.
He is facing three charges of raping three different young girls aged under 16.
He is also facing a fourth charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection relating to a girl aged between 12 and 16.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline on: 0800 227 233 (08002B SAFE).
The Herald understands police are speaking to a fifth girl and may be following up other complainants.
The teenager was attending high school until his arrest but has been suspended until further notice.
He was supported in court by his mother - who wept and dabbed her eyes with a tissue during the short appearance - and siblings.
His lawyer sought an adjournment to allow him time to get full disclosure of the allegations from the police and to ascertain whether the case needs to be heard in a higher court.
The adjournment was granted and the teen was remanded on bail with strict conditions, until his next court appearance.
Police could not comment on the case as it was before the courts.
Youth Court - what the media can report
The Youth Court is a division of the District Court but has a different set of rules when it comes to reporting proceedings.
The Youth Court is not open to the public but media are legally entitled and permitted to attend hearings.
Everyone who appears in the Youth Court is subject to a statutory name suppression - meaning their identities can never be revealed.
The name of any school attended by young defendants is also suppressed.
According to the Youth Court rules, a judge does not need to order suppression of these details as they are automatically suppressed.
A judge can never approve publication of these details.
There is also prohibition against publication of the proceedings unless the presiding judge gives express permission.
In this case today the presiding judge allowed the Herald to report the fact that a young person appeared in court, the charges he is facing and the outcome of today's hearing.
SEXUAL ABUSE OR ASSAULTS - WHERE TO GET HELP:
The Safe to talk sexual harm helpline is available free 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email email@example.com
• Resources, info and webchat atwww.safetotalk.nz
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
You can also visit the police website for information about reporting sexual crime. http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/victims/victims-rape-or-sexual-assault.