Teacher abused girls who 'idolised' him

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Gisborne teacher Stephen Shone has been remanded in custody for sentence after he was found guilty of sexually abusing five girls who idolised him as their music tutor.

The remand to Gisborne District Court on September 29 came today after Shone was found guilty on a charge of indecent assault.

The indecent assault charge was the last remaining count after the yesterday's sudden reversal in which Shone pleaded guilty to 11 of 16 charges.

When the trial opened on Monday Shone pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Shone, 30, now faces sentence on one charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, 10 of indecent assault, and one of unlawful sexual connection. The four other charges were either withdrawn or dismissed.

The victims, aged between 13 and 15 at the times of the offences, all gave evidence in the trial.

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They told the court of Shone's grooming techniques, and the boyfriend-girlfriend types of relationships which had taken place despite the age difference, and in circumstances where they struggled over what to do for fear of harm to their musical ambitions.

Despite his eventual mid-trial admissions, Shone maintained there had been no offence against the fifth complainant who said he rubbed his hands over her clothing over her breasts during a massage at his home.

Inquiry head Detective Sergeant Stephen Smith today told Judge Mike Behrens and the jury of six men and six women that investigations revealed there had been 1547 text messages between Shone and the girl in one month.

Two months later, in March last year, the police received the first complaint from the mother of one of the other girls, leading to Shone's almost immediate arrest and the identifying of all five complainants within a week, for offences at various times dating back about four years.

The sentencing will take place back in Gisborne, the home town of Shone and his victims, despite an attempt by defence counsel Adam Simperingham to have it done in Napier.

Judge Behrens said the sentencing date was tentative, depending on arrangements still to be made.

- NZPA