Permanent name suppression has been awarded to a former Oranga Tamariki staffer who used pornography and drugs to sexually groom a teen boy in her care.
Despite acknowledging the ex-social worker's offending as serious and that open reporting is a "central value of the criminal justice system", a High Court judge has ruled the evidence "clearly favours suppression".
Along with sentencing the woman to 10 months' home detention in October, Judge Chris Field declined to permanently suppress her name or make an order to place her on the child sex offender register.
The decision not to impose a gag order was appealed by the woman's lawyer, Phil Hamlin, this week in the High Court at Auckland and opposed by the Crown.
The negative effects of publication on his client's family, he argued, outweighed open justice.
He said the woman's husband was severely depressed and would be unable to cope with the scrutiny of his colleagues if his wife was named and would resign.
Her children were also said to be anxious and worried about being bullied at school if their mum's name suppression lapsed, with one saying they were considering not returning to the classroom.
Yesterday, Justice Mark Woolford made his decision.
In his judgment, delivered to the Herald, the judge said he did not consider the evidence of the woman's husband and two of her children resulted in extreme hardship and therefore warranted suppression.
However, he continued, their cases "add weight to my assessment" about the impact of publication on a third teenage child's mental health.
"The whole family is under huge stress," he said.
"On the evidence now before the court, [the woman's] relationship with her husband and children has deteriorated since she was arrested."
The judge said he was "fearful" that support systems will not be enough to mitigate the "probable consequences" of lifting name suppression.
"In making this assessment, I have had the benefit of updated and new information which was not available to [Judge Field].
"The entire structure of the family will disintegrate and while psychological input will be able, over time, to assist with the children dealing with that loss of the family unit, it will not be able to be repaired," Justice Woolford said, relying on the evidence of a clinical psychologist.
He said he accepted the former social worker's offending was serious, in the public interest, and open reporting is a "central value of the criminal justice system".
"However, very special circumstances exist in this case which displace the principle that offenders names should normally not be suppressed. In this case, the balance clearly favours suppression," he said.
"[The woman] has already been described in media reports as a former Oranga Tamariki social worker in her mid-30s. Full details of her offending have been published. Reference in newspaper reports has been made to a psychologist's report, which discussed the motivation for the offending. A photograph of her with her head covered by a denim jacket leaving court has been published.
"The public know everything, but her name."
Publication of the woman's name, Justice Woolford concluded, was not required for personal deterrence or to protect the community.
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The woman's offending was earlier revealed by the Herald and included her grooming a then 15-year-old with a series of messages, cannabis and sexually explicit photographs.
The teen was in state care because he had already suffered abuse earlier in his life.
When she discovered the teen's grandfather had gone to police, she begged the boy to stay silent and delete any explicit photos and messages she had sent him, court papers obtained by the Herald read.
"Please if you have anything in your heart for me you will delete everything," a text from the woman to the teen read.
"Police will sweep our phones ... F*** I'm scared."
Some of the explicit photographs exchanged between the pair were deleted and never recovered by police, the court heard during her sentencing.
The police's investigation also found some the ex-social worker had duped her victim and a second teen, a then 14-year-old boy, with the idea of going to the movies.
Instead, she took them to an Auckland beach and supplied the two teens with cannabis, while also kissing her victim.
A psychologist's report, which was read in-part during sentencing, said the woman's offending may have resulted from her need for companionship and intimacy.
However, Crown prosecutor Henry Steele rejected the notion and said it was "hard to see how that is not sexually motivated".
The woman's offending saw her plead guilty to meeting someone younger than 16 following sexual grooming, sexual conduct with a person under 16, exposing a young person to indecent material, two charges of supplying cannabis to a person under 18, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Oranga Tamariki's Glynis Sandland, the deputy chief executive for Services for Children and Families North, has told the Herald the impact of the woman's offending "will be felt by those affected for many years".
"I would like to recognise the courage of the young person who is the victim of this offending. Our focus is on his wellbeing, and we continue to work with him and his family to ensure he is getting the support he needs."
The woman's employment ended with the government department after the allegations surfaced, while an internal investigation was also to be conducted.
Oranga Tamariki is responsible for the protection and care of children whose wellbeing is deemed to be at risk, youth offenders and children of the state.