A school rugby coach will go on trial in Auckland next year for 81 charges of sexual abuse against young boys.
The high number of charges means that if he is convicted, he will be confirmed as one of New Zealand’s worst school sex offenders.
Alosio Taimo, a long-time school volunteer and member of the Samoan church community, has pleaded not guilty to all charges during an appearance at the High Court on Wednesday.
Justice Simon Moore suppressed all details surrounding any schools or clubs Taimo had been associated with, but did not grant name suppression for the alleged sex offender.
“This is effective until further notice,” the chairman said.
Ministry of Education officials are working with the affected schools to offer support to students.
“We have provided appropriate support to the schools involved, as we do whenever our assistance is sought in such cases,” said Katrina Casey, the ministry’s deputy secretary of sector enablement and support.
Taimo listed his interests as “God, Family, Sports” on his personal Facebook page.
Authorities first became aware of his alleged offending in 2016. He initially faced 66 charges, but early court appearances were delayed by several months so prosecutors could file additional charges. He now faces a total of 81 charges, including 32 charges involving children under the age of 12. They include sexual connection, attempted sexual connection, indecent assault, and inducing a child to commit an indecent act. There are a further 49 charges involving boys aged 12-16, including indecent assault, unlawful sexual connection, and committing an indecent act. The 81 charges involve nine complainants, the youngest of whom are now aged 13.
If convicted on all 81 charges Taimo would eclipse the 74 charges admitted by Northland paedophile and former deputy principal James Parker.
Parker currently holds the dubious distinction of being New Zealand’s worst convicted school sex offender.
In August 2012, Parker pleaded guilty to 49 charges of indecent assault and sexual connection against 12 victims.
The revelations rocked the small community around Pamapuria School, where he had been liked and respected for the attention he paid to the children in his care.
Parker admitted a further 25 charges in April 2013, taking him to a total of 74 charges against 20 victims over 13 years.
Police had tried and failed to stop his offending more than a decade earlier, when a boy laid a complaint but later retracted his allegations of sexual abuse.
School commissioner Larry Forbes said in 2013 that it would take years for Parker’s victims to come to terms with what had happened.
“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,” Forbes said.
Parker received a sentence of preventive detention with a minimum term of imprisonment of seven years.
Taimo is being represented by Auckland barrister Panama Le’au’anae, who said Taimo intends to maintain his pleas of not guilty and go to trial.
The trial has been set down for five weeks, and will begin on February 12, 2018.