A former Thames man used his highly respected stance in the community to groom and then carry out "depraved" sex acts on a teen boy with a significant mental impairment.
Ben Joseph Macaran still denies the offending - despite being found guilty at trial - and was today jailed for four years and two months on multiple charges in the Hamilton District Court.
The 72-year-old Civil Union celebrant originally faced 19 charges, however was found guilty of four charges at a trial in July.
They were three representative charges of sexual exploitation of a person with a significant mental impairment, and one non-representative charge over offending between July 25, 2004, and July 24, 2009.
In jailing Macaran today, Judge Marshall noted the large amount of character references he had provided; from clergy, to professionals to his daughter, who all had glowing accounts.
"They are extensive and even include a character reference from your daughter and many associates of yours, both professional, and those that have known you, including clergy.
"They all speak very highly of you Mr Macaran ... it's a stark contrast to the person that the victim gave evidence of [in the] trial."
Macaran met the victim through his partner - who was also charged but cleared of multiple charges at trial - as he was a special needs teacher at Thames High School.
The victim was in his mid-teens, while Macaran was 40 years his senior.
Macaran's partner was often called on by the victim's family to their house to help settle their son.
Macaran - who moved with his partner to the Manawatu about five years ago - also eventually built up a relationship with the teenager through a shared passion for history and art.
In 2004, Thames High School's special needs unit was disestablished and the victim was encouraged to attend Paeroa's Goldfields School, which focuses on special needs children.
Macaran's partner moved to work at Goldfields, while Macaran taught part-time.
During the victim's time at the school Macaran and his partner would have the victim at their home.
"At times he was alone with you at your home in Thames," Judge Marshall explained to Macaran, who appeared via audio visual link from custody.
"During that time the victim gave evidence that you sexually abused him in a number of ways and on a number of occasions.
"When you were alone with the victim, you got him to engage in sexual activity with you.
"You knew that he had a significant impairment and you conceded that in your evidence in court."
Judge Marshall said the victim recalled Macaran making a "crude comment" about the victim's first sexual experience, which in later incidents would go on to include a sex toy.
"You also instructed him to keep what happened as a secret because, as you explained to him, you had cheated on [his partner].
"That left the victim confused as he had not understood that what you had been doing was wrong."
Crown prosecutor Joseph Williams labelled the offending "particularly grave" as it not only saw Macaran sexually abuse the victim, but he also took him to Hamilton to a third person to carry out a sexual act.
"It involved the deliberate and sustained exploitation of an incredibly vulnerable young man by a significantly older man for his own sexual gratification.
"It involved a man who was in a position of trust, who was trusted by the victim and his family that spent time at Macaran's address. It occurred over a lengthy time and it was clearly premeditated."
Williams said the charge relating to taking the victim was the most serious and "depraved".
He said Macaran had used his "upstanding reputation" in the community to carry out the offending.
He urged Judge Marshall take a starting point of six to seven years' prison given the seriousness and impact on the victim.
Macaran's counsel, Charles Bean, said the jury only found his client guilty on four of 23 charges and that should be taken into account when considering whether to put him behind bars or not.
"One factor though is that the jury rejected the majority of [the victim's evidence]. Nineteen charges against this man fell away, either through discharge or not guilty verdicts.
"But where does that put us?"
Judge Marshall agreed to take into account Macaran's age, previous good character and mental and physical health disabilities, totalling 30 per cent.
But that still meant jail time for Macaran, totalling four years and two months.