A high-profile national sports coach is under police investigation following allegations of sexual violations against young girls.
Members of the sporting community he has been part of for more than a decade have told the Herald they are angry he was allowed to coach age-group teams despite "lots of rumours" about his behaviour.
Until recently the man, who cannot be named yet for legal reasons, was contracted by a national sporting body to coach national age-group teams.
His wide-ranging CV also includes stints as coaches for several clubs in the upper North Island and a number of high schools, including a prominent girls-only college.
A source confirmed the man was under investigation by police after a number of allegations were made.
The investigation is in the early stages and no charges have been laid.
Police refused to be drawn on the matter, saying they never commented or confirmed whether specific individuals were under investigation for privacy reasons.
The source said there were "quite a few potential complainants to talk to" and each person police approached had offered up further names of potential victims.
The man was recently about to travel overseas as coach of a national teenage age-group boys team when he was stopped from boarding at the airport by the sporting body's chief.
The man's phone appeared to be disconnected and he did not respond to email requests for comment.
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It is understood that an immediate suspension letter was drafted after a parent of a player the man had coached had complained to Crimestoppers and had threatened to go to the media.
"[The chief executive] then rushed out to the airport with the suspension notice and he was hauled off the trip," a source said.
The chief executive, who also cannot be named at this stage, told the Herald his organisation no longer employed or contracted the man.
He refused to say what the allegation was against the man but defended his organisation, saying they acted swiftly once allegations came to light.
A source said that allegations against the man had been common knowledge in his sporting community for some time and the organisation had taken too long to act.
"[The organisation] had some idea of what he was doing, but they basically tried to brush it under the carpet," the source said.
"I'm really pissed off. They did know that there was some issue with him at least back in May if not years ago - they decided there was no evidence and they would carry on employing him."
The chief executive disputed that, saying his organisation worked swiftly and in accordance with fair and correct process, despite limited information available to them.
"A formal complaint was received by [the organisation] about one of its independent contractors at 2.15pm on 11 July, 2019, and the complainant said that they could provide evidence to back up their allegation," the chief executive said.
"[The organisation] had first been made aware of a potential issue on June 2, 2019.
"However, this was not substantiated by any complaint being lodged or evidence provided
despite several attempts by [the organisation] through the next month to obtain both of these."
After an internal investigation, which the chief executive said included "some evidence" to support the complaint, the man's contract was terminated on July 19.
"[The organisation] is committed to providing a safe environment for all its members and our prime concern is supporting our players, coaches and [the sport's] community," the chief executive said.
Another source said there was disappointment that certain clubs or schools did not share information about the coach with authorities when details started to emerge about the man's alleged inappropriate behaviour.
A senior administrator at one of the affected clubs – who cannot be identified to protect the identity of potential complainants - said she had recently contacted the man by text to see what was happening.
"He said, 'I'm done with [the sport]," she told the Herald.
"I asked him if that was club or country and he said 'both'."
The administrator of the Auckland-based club said "there had been lots of rumours going around" about the man, but she had not received any notices about inappropriate behaviour.
"Not that I'm aware of anyway," she said. "None of the managers I have spoken to have forwarded any complaints."
One source said he was "a bit weird" and tended to flit from one team to the next quite quickly, but maintained an influential position in the [the sport's] community.
"He wielded a lot of power and he should never have been in that position," the source said.
"Kids at that age idolise their coaches."
One source said girls at one club used to talk about how they did not want to get into the top team because he was the coach.
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 email@example.com
• 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.