A petition has been launched calling for an Auckland youth worker who groomed and sexually abused a young girl in his care to go to prison.
Devonte Vincent Walter Mulitalo was yesterday sentenced to 11 months' home detention for his "gross" offending against a 12-year-old girl placed under his supervision at an after school care programme.
Mulitalo, 23, sent the girl graphic photos and videos of his penis and coerced her into performing sexual acts on him at a shed at an Auckland Youth Town centre.
The Glen Innes man claimed "extreme" remorse and wrote a letter of apology to his victim.
However, a photograph later emerged of him at Halloween, dressed as a prison inmate and referring to his upcoming sentencing, where an indication had been given he would receive home detention instead of going to jail.
Last night a petition was launched calling on Mulitalo to be resentenced.
"New Zealand we need to do better," said petition organiser Rosa Reddy on the page.
"This is not justice.
"That little girl and her family have been served life sentences for what this monster has done.
"Sign this petition to ensure he gets what he deserves - his time in prison."
As of midday more than 400 people had signed the petition which is directed at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Judge Mary-Beth Sharp who sentenced Mulitalo, the Crown who prosecuted the case and the government in general.
Many of the hundreds who signed the online petition left comments.
"We need to send a clear message that any sexual assault will not be tolerated," wrote Kelly Dale Wright.
"Make an example of him."
Kimberly Redmond said Mulitalo's "sentence and lack of remorse" was "sickening".
"Actions have consequence," wrote Krystal Sapphyle.
The Herald has contacted Mulitalo's lawyer and the Crown for comment.
The offending occurred between January and July 2017 when Mulitalo was a co-ordinator and then supervisor at Youth Town.
Mulitalo had previously been a top basketballer who played for the NZ Development Squad and Counties Manukau.
After meeting the 12-year-old, Mulitalo began telling the girl how much he liked her.
Initially he hugged her, but that moved on to kissing and further into other sexual acts.
He also started meeting her outside of Youth Town and would drive her to places where he would continue to abuse her.
He sent her photographs of his penis and videos of him masturbating.
Mulitalo was charged after his colleagues found the lewd images on the girl's phone and alerted police.
Crown prosecutor Henry Steele said Mulitalo's offending was serious, and sought a term of imprisonment.
"He was in a position of real responsibility… he used that position, the trust placed in him, to offend against the victim," Steele said.
"He predated on her, groomed her and physically isolated her in order to offend."
Steele said Mulitalo's offending was a "gross breach of trust" and exploitation - and the effects were "catastrophic" for the victim and her family.
Defence lawyer Panama Le'au'anae agreed that the impact of Mulitalo's offending was "profound".
"There was a lack of insight on his part, immaturity.
"Quite clearly he should never have engaged in the way he did… at the time of the offending he was only 22."
Le'au'anae said his client was "genuinely remorseful".
Judge Sharp said Mulitalo had groomed the victim and there was a "significant level" of premeditation.
"She was just a little girl… this was a gross breach of trust," said Judge Sharp.
She sentenced Mulitalo to 11 months home detention and ordered him to be assessed for and if accepted to undertake the SAFE programme.
He was also ordered to undertake any other counselling or programmes ordered by his probation officer.
And Mulitalo is banned from associating with or having any contact with any person under 16 except his brother - unless supervised by an approved adult.
Mulitalo was also added to the child sex offender's register.
"As far as I'm concerned the overwhelming purpose of sentencing you is to see to it that you are completely rehabilitated and you will not sexually reoffend in the future," said Judge Sharp.
"I have my worries that you are a paedophile… but I am satisfied if you graduate from the SAFE programme that the risk you pose to the community and in particular young girls will be sincerely and severely mitigated if not abolished."
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 call the Sate to Talk confidential crisis helpline on: 0800 227 233 (08002B SAFE).
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.