Former Shortland St actor Rene Naufahu sentenced

Former Shortland Street star Rene Naufahu has been sentenced to one year of home detention at the Auckland District Court.

Naufahu last year admitted six charges of indecent assault relating to six women aged between 18 and 24. The offending happened between 2010 and 2013.

Four of the six charges are representative.

Each of the six women had been invited to take part in one-on-one acting lessons.

Judge Ronayne said Naufahu told the students to keep the classes quiet so others wouldn't get jealous.

Naufahu forced kisses on the women, groped and attempted to touch female students' breasts during acting exercises.  He also placed his hand on a student's groin and touched her backside.

Judge Ronayne said in the case of one student, the acting exercises became more intense and sexual with Naufahu's touching becoming increasingly invasive.

In a media statement Naufahu says he's "relieved" the case is behind him.

"We can all move forward and heal, where this is required. That is all I want for us.

"To say that this prosecution has been a brutal learning curve, one that has caused me to assess my past professional and personal conduct, would be an understatement.

"But I now realise that my behaviour at that time wasn't always professional and appropriate, even though then I thought it was.

"For a long while after I was charged and had to confront my behaviour, my passion for acting disappeared.

"However I have worked through this and I am pleased that it has returned.

"None of us are perfect and there is always room for growth."

He says the love and support he received has been "truly humbling".

Former Shortland St actor Rene Naufahu sentenced
Photo credit: Supplied

Judge Ronayne said a common theme among the victims was guilt and shame. He told Naufahu: "you are the guilty one".

Crown prosecutor Kirsten Lummis told the court Naufahu had preyed on his victims' vulnerabilities.

Ms Lummis said there was a power imbalance in the teacher-student relationship.

"It's the type of power imbalance that the #MeToo campaign has highlighted in recent times."

Ms Lummis described how Naufahu had pulled the women out of group acting classes, telling them they were special and they were going to be amazing.

She said it was tall, blonde, slim women that Naufahu found "exceptionally talented".

Naufahu's lawyer Ron Mansfield denied the actor groomed his victims and maintained he had chosen students with genuine talent for one-on-one classes.

He said Naufahu had crossed a line when his enthusiasm and passion for the craft became personal and he now accepts and acknowledges he has hurt some people.

Mr Mansfield said it was "beyond doubt" that Naufahu's coaching had assisted a number of actors.

He said Naufahu had taken genuine steps to rehabilitate and reform.

Naufahu made his name playing an ambulance driver on Shortland Street in the nineties.

Newshub.

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