CYF caregiver found guilty
A Northland Child Youth and Family caregiver has been found guilty of sexual and physical assaults against children in his care.
In the High Court in Whangarei today, the jury returned 21 guilty verdicts and 2 not guilty verdicts against Taite Hemi Kupa, 57. They deliberated for two days.
Guilty verdicts on three counts of rape, one of attempted rape, six charges of unlawful sexual violation by sexual connection, and one sexual violation were by majority verdict, 11 to one.
Ten guilty verdicts on charges of assault were unanimous.
Kupa was found not guilty on two counts of sexual violation.
The assaults were against six different children in his care all aged under 15, and the rape and sexual assault were against two girls under 15.
Kupa was remanded in custody until sentencing in June.
The jury was shown video recordings of interviews with the two female victims who suffered sexual abuse.
One girl told of Kupa doing "sexual things" to her and him telling her never to tell anyone.
One night when she was half asleep Kupa entered her bedroom and raped her, she said in the interview.
"He told us not to tell anyone. It stressed me out, I didn't know what to do," she said.
Kupa would kick the children in the bottom, pinch their ears and stand them against a wall forcing the other children to hit them, as discipline the court heard.
When one child misbehaved at night he sprayed her and her bed with a hose.
He would discipline children by withholding food, feeding them grass sandwiches and serving them plates of stones.
In her video interview the second girl said she had been hit lightly with a broom by Kupa.
"He said I wasn't allowed to tell anyone what happened here and I've been keeping that promise ever since. This is the first time I have told anyone," she said in the interview from February 2013.
Conservative lobby group, Family First, said the verdict revealed systemic issues in CYF and called for an inquiry into its policies and procedures.
"There is obviously some huge flaws in the vetting system of caregivers, and in the level and frequency of care and communication between social workers and children in care," national director, Bob McCoskrie, said.
Child Youth and Family expressed their sorrow and promised ongoing support for the children and their families.
"We are devastated this abuse happened to children and young people in our care," Marion Heeney, Child, Youth and Family Regional Director, Te Tai Tokerau said
"It's our hope that the verdict will bring some closure at least to the victims of Mr Kupa's crimes."