But behind closed doors, in dark corners and empty cloakrooms, teacher Paul Roger Herrick was a repeat and regular sex offender who abused little boys and girls to fulfill his "desires", silencing them with terrifying threats of violence over almost three decades.
Teacher Paul Roger Herrick started to sexually abuse boys and girls soon after he was certified in the 1960s.
It was easy to get them alone.
He'd tell them to stay after class, that they needed to be disciplined.
And once he got them alone he subjected them to, and forced them to participate in, disgusting and deviant sexual acts.
Some of the children told their parents.
And some of the parents confronted the schools.
But those complaints were not actioned, and it wasn't until 1993 - by which time Herrick had been teaching across the country and held multiple principal and deputy roles - that he was finally stopped.
He could and should have been stopped sooner.
Had action been taken in early years Herrick's reign of abuse would not have spanned almost three decades.
So how did this offender get away with it?
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Why were the police not involved sooner?
And how did a man with a sickening sexual appetite for New Zealand's most vulnerable manage to not only keep his job, but rise to the top of it?
That's what his victims want to know - and what the Herald set about finding out when Herrick was jailed for a fourth time in November last year.
On November 2, a 72-year-old Herrick stepped into the dock at the Whanganui District Court for sentencing on yet another set of sex charges relating to his former pupils.
He had been granted parole 10 months earlier and a news article on his release prompted a new swathe of complainants to come forward.
That's how Herricks' offending has come to light over the years - each time he appears in the news another police station around the country heard from another person claiming they had been sexually abused by their former teacher.
Herrick's sordid story began in the early 60s when he trained as a teacher.
The Ministry of Education provided details of Herrick's teaching career - as far as it could find records - under the Official Information Act.
He was certified in 1965 and continued teaching until June 1993 when he was suspended while police investigated the first raft of sex allegations against him.
He has not taught since then.
The first school Herrick taught at was in 1964, while he was still training and before he was fully certified.
He then went on to teach at:
• Hilltop School in Taupo from 1965-68
• Tokoroa East School (now closed) from 1968-70
• Balmoral School in Tokoroa from 1971-72
From 1976 he was promoted to more senior roles.
• Karitane School in Dunedin from 1976-79 as principal
• Awamoa School (now closed) in Oamaru from 1980-82 as deputy principal
• Pukeuri School (now closed) near Oamaru from 1983-84 as principal
• Hawera Intermediate from 1984-86 as deputy principal
• Cromwell Primary School from 1986-89 as principal
• Rangitikei Intermediate (now closed) in Marton from 1989-90 as principal
• Hawera Primary School from 1990-92 as principal
• Ross Intermediate in Palmerston North from 1992-94 as principal.
Ministry deputy secretary for sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said no record could be found of Herrick teaching from 1972-76, but the ministry can't be sure he wasn't.
His tenure at Ross Intermediate, and his career, ended when he was first arrested and charged with child sex offending in 1993.
A victim spoken to by the Herald said complaints were certainly made about Herrick back when she was being abused.
She knew of children who had told their parents who, in turn, had approached the school.
Police were also aware of victims who said their parents had raised the issue at the time - a fact acknowledged by the courts.
But there is no record on Herrick's employment file of anything untoward before his arrest. There's also no record of the reasons he left each school.
Casey said a thorough check was done of all individual school files where Herrick was employed and records of complaints against teachers.
"We did not find any record of complaints against Mr Herrick about his conduct around children," she said.
But she confirmed that in June 1993 the Ross Intermediate board of trustees chair notified the Ministry that Herrick had been suspended on full pay "pending legal proceedings".
"This coincides with his sentencing for offences against children," said Casey.
"We are unable to confirm in our records when his offending was made known to us."
The Herald was granted access to parts of Herrick's court file, which revealed the full litany of his offending - or at least the offending known to date.
THE FIRST CONVICTIONS - PRINCIPAL'S 'FALL FROM GRACE'
So far, 18 victims have been identified and Herrick has been convicted of offending against them.
Herrick was first jailed for sex crimes against children on May 19 1994 in the High Court at Palmerston North.
He denied charges of sexual violation, indecent assault relating to children under 12 between 1972 and 1986.
Following a trial, Herrick was convicted on all counts by a jury.
He was sent to prison for five years and his "fall from grace" and "significant loss of career" was noted by the presiding judge.
That judge had no idea that what Herrick was convicted of at the time was the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Parole Board, while in prison in 1997, Herrick completed "intensive treatment" and has not reoffended since.
While that may be true - he had plenty of victims in his past with secrets to share.
In August 2015 Herrick was back in the dock - this time in Oamaru - entering guilty pleas to two charges of assaulting a boy under 10.
The offending happened in 1982 when Herrick was 36.
Herrick told the little boy to remain after school for "disciplinary purposes" and after the rest of the class was dismissed he took the boy to the cloakroom and sexually assaulted him.
The boy was terrified and eventually Herrick stopped and told him to go home.
Sometime later in the year Herrick again told the boy to stay behind after school.
This time the assault in the cloakroom was much more serious.
The boy became "distressed" and Herrick allowed him to leave.
At sentencing Judge Joanna Maze said the betrayal of trust when a teacher offended against a child had "lifelong consequences" for the young victim, including preventing "natural sexual development".
"The breach of trust is a significant factor," she said.
"Parents are obliged by law to send their children to school unless they obtain an exemption … so parents need to be sure that those to whom they entrust their children to are stable and trustworthy."
She sentenced Herrick to nine months' home detention, replacing her starting point of 18 months' jail, and ordered him to pay $2000 in reparation.
ANOTHER COURTROOM, ANOTHER SENTENCE
July 22, 2016.
Another courtroom, another tranche of sex charges, another jail term for Herrick.
In the Palmerston North District Court Herrick was sentenced for offending against six victims - boys and girls all under 12 - across three years in the early 80s.
Sodomy, indecent acts, indecent assaults, inducing indecencies.
Judge Jim Large locked Herrick up for another four years and nine months.
The world wouldn't hear about Paul Roger Herrick again until he was granted parole in December 2017.
Herrick convinced the board that he had identified his "high-risk situations" and had a "good network" of friends to support him.
"The summary states that overall risk of sexual reoffending, if he has a tangible release plan and support group, is considered low," panel convenor Tania Williams Blyth said.
"Mr Herrick says that the board can be confident that he will not reoffend because he has been offence free for the past 20-25 years and his mind is obsessed with keeping himself and the community safe.
A story outlining his release, conditions and sex offending history was published on a news website and Herrick, who likely hoped his time in the dock was over, was visited by police again.
The story was published on January 6 and spotted by a woman who Herrick taught early in his career.
She saw the name, recognised the face despite the age that almost 50 years had added to it, and her breath caught in her throat.
Immediately she was back in that quiet cloakroom, Herrick restraining her, abusing her, warning of the violence that would befall her if she told a soul.
Until then, she never had told a soul - not her family, not a single friend, not her husband, her children.
But maybe now it was time?
She battled with the decision for a while, and eventually, picked up the phone and called the police.
She was one of eight former pupils who did the same, leading to Herrick facing another raft of charges and being sent back to prison later in 2018.
The Herald cannot name the school she attended or give the timeframe of the offending as, by law, sexual abuse victims cannot be identified.
But her story can be shared. Finally.
Herrick's abuse was frequent - but she lived in fear because she never knew what would set him off, when he would come for her next.
She felt isolated, stressed, terrified and alone.
"I was convinced I was the only one," she said.
"When I saw an article in the paper last year it absolutely stopped me in my tracks … I realised this man was a serial child molester.
"I feel so sorry for those children (abused after me) - he should have never been allowed to do that.
"All those victims up and down the country … everything he did … I don't know how someone could do that to innocent children, I don't know what goes through their heads."
The victim was about 8 when Herrick turned his attention on her.
He abused her and threatened to hurt her physically if she told anyone.
He walked her up to a guillotine in the classroom, used for cutting paper, and sliced through a sheet to demonstrate how sharp the blade was.
"He told me that if I told anyone what I was doing to him he would put my thumb in there and slice it off.
"He put a piece of paper in there and sliced it to show me he was serious … he was vicious and this was what we had to live with.
"I believed him ... I never spoke about it until I spoke to Jimmie at the police station.
"It was harrowing going through the evidential interview, I didn't even tell him everything, I just told him enough to make it clear that what this man was doing was so wrong - enough to get convictions.
"I could only report what I could clearly remember, but there was more …"
The victim was told there were other victims from her school, and found out about Herrick's other offending and convictions.
"It turned out the bloody bastard was molesting the boys as well as the girls," she said, still shocked.
"We were all terrified of him, terrified of doing the wrong thing because we knew what he would do to us."
At school, the victim and her classmates had a shared terror of Herrick, but the reason why was never voiced.
The victim did not have a close relationship with her mother and speaking to her male relatives was not an option.
So she kept the abuse to herself.
"I was raised to believe that little girls who spoke about men like that were little tramps," she said.
"I thought 'oh my God if I say anything about what this man is doing to me I'm a little tramp' and I didn't want that.
"I was so scared no one was going to believe me … he was a teacher …"
After initially contacting the police the victim almost decided against an evidential interview.
"But then I thought about the other victims and I decided I had to," she said.
"I thought of the harm that he's caused because people didn't stop him - the silence that we lived in.
"I'm ashamed I never had the courage to tell anyone about it earlier but back then little girls who spoke up against grown men were troublemakers - so I just got on with it.
MORE CHARGES - AND A COURT FILE OPENED
The officer who brought Herrick to justice most recently is Detective Jimmie Walker.
After new victims came forward, Walker spent months investigating their allegations, doing all he could to build the strongest case against the sexually deviant former teacher.
One victim said Walker went "above and beyond" and without him, she would not have had the confidence to face her abuser in court.
Walker spoke to the Herald about the case, revealing that there were potential victims located who chose not to make formal complaints.
Each person identified during the investigation who indicated they may have been affected by Herrick was given advice by Walker before they were asked to go forward with an evidential interview.
He told them that their wellbeing was of "primary importance".
He thoroughly explained the investigation and prosecution process to them.
He then asked them to consider what course of action would provide the best outcome for them.
"If they chose to engage with police or not, this was their choice to make," Walker said.
"After this initial communication, eight complainants subsequently provided evidential statements in relation to offending by Herrick."
Walker said the first victim approached police in January 2018.
It is understood this person had read about Herrick being granted parole and approached police.
Until then, they had never disclosed the abuse nor were ever aware there were other victims or that Herrick had been jailed for his crimes twice before.
"The other seven victims were interviewed over the next few months which resulted in Herrick being interviewed and charged in May, 2018," Walker explained.
Fast forward to September 2018 and there was Herrick in another courtroom, another dock, before another judge awaiting another sentence.
His victim was there, she faced him for the first time since primary school and read an impact statement.
She said he showed no emotion or empathy - there was not a flicker of feeling on his face as she described the turmoil and devastation he caused.
The offending against the woman and the other seven victims - also pupils of Herrick - was detailed in the court file through sentence indication and sentencing notes from Judge Philip Crayton.
The file reveals:
• One assault only stopped when Herrick's own daughter disturbed him.
• Herrick told one girl he would throw her through a reinforced glass door if she told anyone about the abuse.
• A lot of the offending happened in the cloakroom after Herrick made sure no other children or teachers were nearby.
• In one case, the assault only stopped when the child managed to run away.
"The offending against children is offending against our most precious commodity … (Herrick) can properly be described as someone who, over an 18-year period, preyed on children who he was supposed to teach, protect and nurture," said Judge Crayton.
He opined that had Herrick's crimes been able to be considered at once, rather than "piecemeal" over the years, a sentence that would have reflected "overall culpability" would have started at 16 years' jail.
He rejected the suggestion of home detention and said prison was the only place Herrick was going after court that day.
"It would be an inadequate response to what can only be described as a serious set of offences and it would likely give the unfortunate impression that if you can keep your offending quiet for long enough so that it is only revealed in dribs and drabs, you may be able to benefit by having the sentence commuted to home detention on one more occasions," he explained.
"This sentence … cannot reflect your offending as it would be if this was the only offending you faced over the years.
"I have to take into account that this was part of a very large and large-scale period of offending.
"Had you appeared before the court in the mid-90s when all these matters would have come together you would have faced the court as probably one of the most significant offenders of a sexual nature that had appeared in New Zealand of that time."
SCHOOLS TOLD, BUT HERRICK'S 'STATUS' MEANT SILENCE
Judge Crayton had a strong message for Herrick's victims- some of whom had attended a restorative justice conference with him where they "sought and got answers".
"They were in no way responsible for your offending," he told Herrick of the children he abused.
"I also make extremely clear that none of your victims should feel in any way that they have … assisted you in further offending by the fact that they did not feel able to pursue matters … back in the late 60s, early 70s.
"What comes out glaringly from this case … is that there were matters brought to the attention of schools but you, your status, their vulnerability and their lack of status meant that whatever had happened at that stage - you would not have been stopped.
"We are fortunate (today) that we would have a far more protective and proactive approach to such complaints - but none of your victims should feel in any way that they have any responsibility for any of your offending against anyone else; that falls plainly at your door."
Judge Crayton sent Herrick back to prison for 21 and a half months.
The woman abused by Herrick when she was 8 thought long and hard about whether to approach the media with her story.
She wasn't interested in his sentence, she just wanted to make damn sure the nation knew his name, his crimes, his "evil".
She wanted to make sure anyone else harbouring a dark secret like she had, felt empowered to come forward.
Mostly, she wanted to make sure he could never harm another child again - and give a voice to those who were silence, not heard or not believed in the past.
The victim said she had struggled with the abuse over the years, especially the feeling she could never speak about it.
"This will be with me for the rest of my life," she said.
"There is no way I will every fully forget it … but I have had a good life, a productive life and a happy life despite all of this - I have to move on.
"I just wanted to be believed …
"Some of the children told their parents and they went to the school ... It was swept under the carpet and he was allowed to keep teaching us.
"He went on to become a principal … the more he went on the more skilled he got at keeping it a secret.
"He should have been stopped in the 60s."
WHO KNEW ABOUT HERRICK?
Walker confirmed a number of victims had told him they disclosed the abuse to their parents and the school was informed.
He, like the ministry, was unable to find out what was done with that information at the time.
It appears, absolutely nothing - or at least nothing that stopped Herrick's career from progressing, or his abuse.
The ministry said things were markedly different now when it came to disclosure of abuse.
Casey said the introduction of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 saw new requirements put in place to protect children from abuse and neglect - including in a school setting.
The Act requires state-funded services and their contracted providers to safety check, vet and screen "core children's workers", including teachers.
"It also requires schools to have child protection policies in place, to encourage early identification and referral of suspected child abuse or neglect," she explained.
"In addition, those who work with children will need to have their checks updated every three years while their employment or engagement continues."
Casey said the ministry responded to abuse allegations in accordance with the Act requirements, and "other relevant legislation".
"When we receive allegations involving a person working in or associated with an educational setting, we work with Oranga Tamariki, police and the Teaching Council to ensure the allegations are investigated and the children and young people are safe," she said.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2012 which outlined the agencies' respective roles and responsibilities in managing such allegations.
"It should also be noted that all schools must have child protection policies in place and the Teaching Council investigates all concerns about teacher conduct - and may cancel a teacher's practicing certificate were a complaint to be upheld," said Casey.
Judge Crayton labelled Herrick's offending as "significant" - and Walker agrees, particularly given the almost 50-year gap between the abuse and disclosure.
"This investigation and the subsequent convictions show that sexual offenders can be held to account regardless of the passage of time and I would urge victims to not be discouraged from disclosing offending against them simply because of a time gap," he told the Herald.
"I would like to commend the eight courageous victims who recounted traumatic memories from their childhood in order to hold Herrick to account for his offending.
"It is not easy for victims to disclose difficult childhood experiences especially when it may be the first time they have ever spoken of the offending to anyone.
"Their individual decisions to record these memories was the basis for the recent successful prosecution and conviction of Herrick."
Walker encouraged anyone else who had been sexually abused - including anyone else with concerns about Herrick - to consider speaking to police.
"It simply starts with a conversation with a trained investigator and victims can disengage from the process if they wish too," he assured.
"For some victims, sharing their story and assisting to bring offenders to account can contribute to the healing process for them.
"Also, sexual offending against children is sometimes accompanied by significant threats by the offender if the victims ever disclose it to anyone.
"These threats often successfully prevent the victim from speaking for long periods of time."
PAUL ROGER HERRICK - A TIMELINE OF TORMENT
Paul Roger Herrick born
1965: Herrick certified as a teacher
1993: Suspended from role as principal at Ross Intermediate School after being charged with child sex offending
May 1994: Sentenced at Palmerston North by Judge Jan-Marie Doogue to five years in prison for sexual violation, indecent assault of children including a pupil between 1968 and 1987.
August 2015: Sentenced at Oamaru by Judge Joanna Maze to nine months' home detention (commuted from 18 months' jail) for indecent assaults on a boy under 12 in 1982
July 2016: Sentenced at Palmerston North by Judge Jim Large to four years and nine months in prison for a raft of sexual offending against six boys and girls between 1980 and 1983
January 2018: Herrick released on parole
September 2018: Sentenced at Whanganui by Judge Philip Crayton to 21.5 months in jail for sexual offences against eight boys and girls between 1968 and 1971
According to the courts, there is no suggestion Herrick has offended against anyone since he was first jailed in 1994.
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.