A Dunedin sex offender and former youth-group leader will be released on parole today while the boy he abused 13 years ago remains a recluse.
Sean Paul Clemenger was jailed for four years, three months on three charges of doing an indecent act on a child and, two of distributing child pornography and one of possession.
The 37-year-old will leave Rolleston Prison today, despite the sentence ending in October, after the Parole Board found his risk had decreased to a sufficient level.
Clemenger, at a hearing last month though, admitted "a reasonably high sexual preoccupation".
He told the board he was working at lowering his sexually deviant arousal but it "crops up every now and then".
The news of his release was yet another devastating blow to the family of the 7-year-old boy he molested between 2006 and 2007.
"It's still really raw," the boy's mother said.
"It's not upsetting any more, it's just anger."
When the offending started, she said her son's behaviour changed overnight.
"There was no joy in anything," she said.
Struggling for answers, she and her husband discussed their problems with friends.
Clemenger was one of those who sat around the table and feigned ignorance despite having groomed the child since the age of five.
It progressed to the indecent acts, one of which occurred on the boy's seventh birthday and another in a church playground, which ceased only because it became clear he was hurting the victim.
The mother told the Otago Daily Times there were never any warning signs about Clemenger's conduct.
"He's so good at getting on with people," she said.
She described the work Clemenger had done in prison as "tick-box courses" and doubted he would change, given such a long-standing sexual attraction to children.
The offender told a psychologist his depraved tendencies had emerged at 10 years old and he started viewing pornography a year later.
His predilections were uncovered by his own family in 2006, which led to some counselling and short periods of abstinence.
In 2009, Clemenger was implicated in an investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs and charged with downloading objectionable material.
But he was granted diversion on the proviso he undertake treatment.
It brought no lasting change, however, and Clemenger was caught distributing child-abuse files in 2016, after which he admitted the sexual abuse of the boy a decade earlier.
The mother of the victim said her son had spiralled into ever deeper depression while the man was behind bars.
She said it had been more than two years since he had left his home and she now worried every time the phone rang.
"Every day I think my son will kill himself. He hates the world," she said.
To add further pain, the family discovered with the recent Parole Board decision, that Clemenger was being released back to Otago.
The mother wanted to warn others who may meet him.
"Don't trust him," she said.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.