No jail for sex offender teacher

Last updated 11:44 20/03/2008
LAWRENCE SMITH/Sunday News
HOME DETENTION: Former teacher Heremia Smith will not be put in jail for sex charges against teenage girls.

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Three teenage girls who were indecently assaulted by their Auckland teacher say their education and confidence were severely dented by the offending.

Their troubles were laid out in victim impact statements read during the sentencing in Auckland District Court of former Glenfield College Maori Studies head Heremia Smith, who will be sentenced to home detention on six indecent assault charges.

Judge Jacqueline Bouchier said she would give Smith, 30, a home detention sentence but she was unable to finalise it today because the first suggested address for his sentence did not meet the criteria and checks would be needed on a second address.

A jury last month found Smith guilty of four charges of indecent assault and two of sexual conduct against a girl under 16.

The charges related to three girls between the ages of 12 and 16 and happened between 2002 and 2006.

He was found guilty of removing the bra and shorts of one girl, touching her hand and putting it on his groin, and touching her groin with his finger.

For a second girl he was found guilty of changing and adjusting a pair of shorts on the complainant and for touching her legs, and for the third he was found guilty of indecently touching her legs.

Another indecent assault charge laid by the third girl was not upheld by the jury, which also found Smith not guilty of one count of sexual violation and six other indecent assault charges relating to four other girls.

The court was told in victim impact statements that one of the girls had been a potential head girl at her school but went downhill after being forced to go to another school. Another girl had left school early and lost direction.

The third also left school early and now wanted nothing to do with her Maori culture, whereas she once felt proud of it.

"Quite clearly, each of the victims felt confused, hurt, vulnerable and scared," Judge Bouchier said.

"And after they had done the right thing and told the school, they were then isolated and put in separate classes, which would have appeared to have victimised them all over again."

Judge Bouchier said that Smith's offences warranted a two-year prison sentence, meaning home detention could be considered.

She said she would sentence him to home detention when the final sentence is delivered next month.

Smith will remain on bail until then.

A family member of one of the complainants said outside the court that the home detention sentence was "gut-wrenching" and she was very upset.

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- NZPA

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