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NZ: Sacked teacher faces 17 sex abuse counts (Auckland)

Publish Date: 24 May 2011
Source: NZ Herald
By: Elizabeth Binning and Edward Gay

A senior teacher at a private school in Auckland is alleged to have sexually abused 11 pupils, some as young as 9.

The 63-year-old appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday to face 17 charges of indecent assault and was granted bail.

The names of the teacher and the school have been suppressed to protect the identity of the girls, aged between 9 and 12.

The alleged abuse occurred between 2007 and this year.

The Herald revealed two weeks ago that police were investigating complaints made by a student against the teacher, who was then dismissed.

The school's principal said the student made the complaint late in March and the teacher was immediately dismissed after an emergency meeting of the school board.

Police were also notified and members of the child abuse team visited the school several times last month to interview students and update staff on their investigation.

The principal said the school acted quickly to assure parents and pupils there was no further risk to students and that the appropriate authorities were dealing with the complaint.

The Teachers Council has been told of the school's actions and the identity of the teacher.

It has been recommended the teacher be deregistered, although the council is likely to await the outcome of the police investigation before putting the matter before its disciplinary tribunal.

The principal said the school had also kept parents informed and in return received numerous letters and emails of support for the way it handled the matter.

Five other teachers around the country had been banned from the profession this year after being found guilty of sexually abusing children.

Those cases involve charges from indecent acts through to sexual violation on a range of victims aged between 7 and 12.

The teachers, most of whom are serving time in jail for their crimes, were all deregistered by the Teachers Council after disciplinary hearings.

The number of teachers deregistered for sexual offending this year is much higher than in previous years. Normally the council rules on only one or two such cases a year.

Teachers Council director Peter Lind said any sexual complaint against a teacher was "one too many".

He said it was hard to know if the five cases this year were the start of some kind of trend but it was a serious concern that there were five.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said she could not comment on the latest case but agreed any case of sexual abuse was one too many.

"While the overwhelming majority of teachers do a fantastic job, it's vital that students are safe while at school, and that parents have peace of mind."

Mrs Tolley said the Government had introduced laws to improve student safety, such as allowing information to be matched between the Teachers Council's register of teachers and the Ministry of Education's payroll database.

That provided a more reliable and efficient method of monitoring teacher registration and tracking the employment of teachers to ensure they met teaching and safety standards.


Copyright 2011, APN Holdings NZ Limited
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