Inquiry needed over paedophile

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 05:00 26/08/2012

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If there is one thing that was obvious about paedophile deputy principal James Parker this week, it is that there will be more victims.

Despite his tearful and tactical confession, Parker exhibits the mind of a sex offender by seeking public sympathy and to diminish his offending. He has claimed that an errant third party, his sickness, led him astray and his defence lawyer has blamed school authorities.

But the truth is that Parker was the classic groomer from day one. He deliberately sought out young Maori boys from dysfunctional families and pretended to care.

One can only imagine the cumulative effect of the kids' lifestyles - and now this. Northland, and the justice system, will be reaping the consequences for decades.

Incredibly Education Minister Hekia Parata has refused to launch her own inquiry into this scandal. She claims a report released earlier last week, on serial fraudster Te Rito Henry Miki, tells her all she needs to know.

It does not. Miki had no child victims from his classroom antics. Parker has at least twelve, but the number will be much more. And unlike Miki, Parker signalled to many individuals - including Parata's ministry - that he had a problem.

On my radio show, callers expressed a uniform disbelief that the Pamapuria community in which Parker worked, could not have known. Or at least had their alert buttons triggered. To outsiders, his behaviour seemed so odd and so obvious that surely it should have been picked up.

The answer of rural Kaitaia is that outsiders just don't understand. This is the way we do things in the Far North, they say. Which sends shudders through the rest of us.

But Parker is the classic predator and an intelligent predator. To many stressed and struggling families he appeared as a white knight. Even though, according to a former associate, he claimed to be Maori and deliberately took responsibility for troubled Maori kids. Now, they know why.

The actions of the school principal and board of trustees appear bizarre. As do those of former principals and colleagues so keen to reveal their former misgivings. Why did none of them act?

And that smoking gun - the police letter written in April 2009. In the end it was the personal opinion of one police officer, addressed only to the principal, and after a joint police, CYF and Education Ministry investigation had dismissed allegations against Parker.

How thorough that investigation was, and how widespread the authorities' misgivings, should rightly occupy an independent ministerial inquiry. This was no trail of false identities - this was a case of the harbouring of a paedophile when his every action seemed to scream his agenda.

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And then there are the implications for all male primary school teachers. Parker has the potential to see off the last of this endangered species. As the Peter Ellis case stunted male early childhood recruitment for two decades.

Get involved, minister. Parker's tactical confession is just the start.

mlaws@radiolive.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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