Former dance teacher sentenced for historic sex charges

  • 20/10/2015
Former dance teacher sentenced for historic sex charges

By Ranjani Ponnuchetty

A former dance tutor has been sentenced to three years and six months in prison after admitting to a raft of historic sex charges against a girl under the age of 16.

The man in his 40s, who appeared in a South Island court today, was granted interim name suppression until Friday.

Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to eight counts of indecency with a girl between the age of 12 and 16 and four charges of sexual conduct with a child.

In the police summary of facts, it was revealed some of the offending happened while there were upwards of 25 adults and children on a bus while they were on a dance trip.

He was in his 30s while the victim was 15 at the time of the offending.

The man defended himself by telling police he knew the victim was a minor but that he believed it was a consensual relationship.

The victim says she only realised what happened to her was wrong when she told a friend this year.

"Words like predator and paedophile were chucked around - that was a huge shock to me because I never thought of it that way.

"With grooming, you believe it's a relationship at the time."

She says walking through the police station to lay a complaint was the hardest thing she's done in her life, especially because she was close friends with the offender's family.

In her victim impact statement, the 25-year-old said she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and isn't stable enough to be in a committed relationship.

"It's changed me completely. It's not something you can prepare yourself for really."

"It's so hard because you do blame yourself for what you think is allowing it to happen," she says.

"As a 14-year-old when you've got someone who you hold in such high esteem and who you trust so much, when they're telling you it's a relationship you believe that it is. So as a young girl I went along with everything that he instigated."

The man sat in the dock holding a photo of his wife and two children throughout the court proceedings.

Outside court, many of his supporters said they were shocked to hear the extent of his offending.

No minimum non-parole period was imposed by the judge.