Teacher paedophile gets preventive detention
The school where James Parker taught while sexually abusing young boys remains "fragile".
The comment was made today by Pamapuria School commissioner Larry Forbes after Parker was sentenced at the High Court in Whangarei for 74 sexual offences he'd earlier pleaded guilty to.
Parker received a preventive detention sentence with a minimum term of imprisonment of seven years for the offences committed against 20 boys aged under 16-years-old.
Forbes said the hardest thing for people in the community to get to grips with was the length of time the abuse went on for - over 13 years.
"It's affected the school very significantly, and while the school is stable now on the surface, it's still quite fragile and will be for quite some time, given the trauma that has gone on there for so long," he said.
The majority of the boys most affected by Parker's offending had moved on from Pamapuria School, located east of Kaitaia.
"I would imagine for them as they grow older and become more aware and more understanding of the circumstances that occurred, I think it's going to be very difficult for some of them to adjust," Forbes said.
"There will be a need for long term counselling for some of these boys and their families."
'HERO' SPEAKS UP
Speaking after the sentencing, the detective who headed the case, Mark Dalzell of the Kaitaia child protection team, called the boy who brought about Parker's downfall "an absolute hero".
"The tipping point was the absolute courage displayed by one boy. He gave an evidential interview that formed the cornerstone of our investigation."
The breakthrough came after police had tried and failed to stop Parker more than a decade before.
In 1998 a boy came forward to make a complaint about Parker, but when interviewed for an hour by a police specialist interviewer he retracted the accusations.
Police then interviewed Parker.
"He was given every opportunity to confess and the allegations were strongly denied," Dalzell said.
Faced with no evidence, police could not prosecute Parker.
Instead they sent a letter of warning to the school - a warning that was not acted on.
In the latest case, Dalzell said: "The biggest challenge by a country mile in this investigation has been to win the trust and confidence of our boys.
"There are many reasons why victims of sexual abuse find it difficult to come forward.
"We won the confidence of our boys, they felt comfortable enough to talk to us, we got our evidence, we got our man."
On the sentence handed to Parker, Dalzell said: "I think justice was done today."
Marion Heeney, the Te Tai Tokerau regional director for Child Youth and Family, said all the victims were getting ongoing support, including specialist social workers in the school and Kaitaia College.
"They have felt a range of emotions, shame, anger, lack of trust and that manifests itself in some of the behaviours the boys are displaying.
"This includes acting out at home, not listening to adults, being fearful, being afraid, not wanting to be at some places where these things happened to them, not wanting to be at school and grief," she said.
YOU NEED TREATMENT: JUDGE
In sentencing, Justice Paul Heath said he gave Parker preventive detention with a minimum jail time of seven years on the basis that the sooner he became eligible for parole he could start his treatment.
"When you were listening to the [victim impact] statements you did not even have the courtesy to look the victims in the eye. You simply sat there holding your head in your hands not looking at them.
"From a society's point of view it has the advantage that you will be monitored regularly to see if you are safe for release and if there are terms that will mitigate the risk of reoffending adequately."
He said there were no personal mitigating factors and the offending was aggravated by the number of victims, the breach of the position of trust and the "calculated methodology" that was required for the offending to take place.
Under preventive detention, Parker can't be released from jail until the Parole Board decides he is no longer a danger to the community.
The Parole Board cannot even consider releasing him until he has served seven years, and if it does release him he can be recalled at any time for the rest of his life.
Police or Corrections can apply to the Parole Board for his immediate recall, if they consider he poses an undue risk to society, has breached his parole conditions, or has committed an imprisonable crime.
'I'M TO BLAME'
Earlier, in a statement read to the court by his lawyer, Alex Witten-Hannah, Parker said he was grief-stricken by what he had read of his offending and the impact on the boys and their whanau.
He asked his victims to not blame themselves but for him to take sole blame.
Parker said he accepted that he had abused a position of power and that there was premeditation in his actions.
Witten-Hannah told the court that "due to the lack of physical violence Parker is deserving of some mercy".
"At 38 he is too young to lock him up and throw away the key."
A subdued-looking Parker stood in the dock in front of a courtroom packed with with about 30 victims and family, plus a large media presence.
The scale of Parker's offending was without comparison in New Zealand, with the charges representing more than 300 offences, Crown prosecutor Michael Smith said.
The offending only stopped due to the bravery of the young boys coming forward, he said.
Smith had earlier asked Justice Heath to impose a sentence of preventive detention to prevent risk to the community.
However Witten-Hannah had asked the court to impose a lengthy but finite sentence.
He said he was confident that with the "appropriate therapeutic treatment" Parker would never reoffend.
Justice Heath said he was concerned at the escalation in offending after the 2009 police warning to the school about an indecent assault on a student by Parker, which he said led to offences at "the highest end of sexual violation".
Witten-Hannah responded that Parker had said that in 2009, "he had reached a point where he couldn't stop himself".
Justice Heath asked: "What does that tell us?"
Witten-Hannah replied: "That the man has a sexual deviancy. On one hand part of the tragedy is that there was no-one he could turn to help."
PARKER WEEPS AS VICTIMS SPEAK
Earlier Parker held his head in his hands and began to cry as victims read statements to the court outlining the impact his crimes had on them.
One victim told the court he could no longer trust male teachers.
"In 2008 when you first sexually abused me I told some of my family members about it but they didn't believe me. They told me I was lying and I remember them saying that he wouldn't do that." he said, sobbing.
"This made me start to hate my family because they believe you [Parker] over me.
"I used to do good at sports and music and kapa haka but I stopped doing that because of what you did to me.
"When I was interviewed by police last year I felt guilty and responsible for you going to jail. It made me think about suicide."
Another victim's mother said: "Every day I try not to let thoughts of this monster here before us - Jamie James Parker - pour upon us.
"You have taken away from my son something that I could never give him back: His innocence. I hope he finds his strength to find his happiness again - he deserves to be free of all your evil.
"He and I have had thoughts of suicide. I am on constant alert that my children are so sad that any moment alone could be the end."
She said children were teased and bullied at school for knowing Parker. "We are all embarrassed for knowing you.
"I am unable to forgive myself for not seeing what a monster that you truly are. You have thrust mistrust upon our community."
Another victim said "Jamie" was like a father figure to him and had stolen his childhood.
Parker was first charged in August 2012 with 49 charges of indecent assault, performing an indecent act and unlawful sexual connection against children in his care. There were 12 initial victims.
More charges were laid as police investigations continued and more victims came forward.
In April Parker pleaded guilty to 25 further charges of sexual offences against another eight victims.
Kaitaia District Court judge Greg Davis transferred sentencing to the High Court, saying he believed Parker should be considered for preventive detention, that the District Court did not have jurisdiction to hand down.
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