Gloriavale principal didn't remove teacher despite sexual offending claims, NZ Teaching Council investigating

The New Zealand Teaching Council is investigating the principal at Gloriavale over allegations he failed to keep students safe.

A teacher at the school was convicted of sexual offending against a nine-year-old girl last year. He wasn't stopped from teaching until police stepped in, even though the school leader knew of the allegations years earlier.

Faithful Pilgrim has been the principal at Gloriavale for more than 20 years. Newshub understands the teacher's council investigaion relates to what Pilgrim knew about Standfast's history and why he wasn't removed as a teacher when allegations first surfaced against him. 

Standfast was convicted for kissing, touching, and exposing himself to a nine-year-old girl.

When the allegations first surfaced in 2012, the girl's father approached Pilgrim. The father says that's when the principal told him it (sexual offending) had happened before.

"I was just sort of really stunned. That statement, 'it's happened before', as I understood it at the time, what it meant to me, it was just like being hit with a sledgehammer," he says.

"It appears that the principal had knowledge of this, had been signing this guy off as safe."

Standfast was removed from teaching duties after admitting the offending.

However, the girl's father says that only lasted around three months before he was allowed to teach again, but only in a class with boys.

"It's ignorant and wrong in so many ways. It's just appalling."

  • Do you know more? Email Michael Morrah in confidence here 

Liz Gregory from the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust helps people after they leave the secretive community.

"In true Gloriavale fashion, it got covered up and buried," she says.

It was not until Standfast was arrested by police six years later that he was finally removed from school duties permanently. 

"We have picked up part of the call from a wide number of leavers who have said over the years why wasn't the principal investigated at the time."

Former Gloriavale resident Virginia Courage says it was only after Standfast's arrest that some parents were informed.

"I was just like, 'what, he's still teaching in the school'. Why has no one said anything, why does no one care that our kids are unsafe."

Another former Gloriavale resident, Melody Pilgrim, says Gloriavale's system for "dealing with this kind of abuse is really ineffective".

"But, as well, it leaves the opportunity open for it to keep happening."

Newshub emailed and called Pilgrim and Standfast seeking comment, but did not get a response.

The Teachers Council confirmed to Newshub a complaint about Pilgrim has been received and is being investigated. However, it's possible Pilgrim is no longer in charge as principal. 

The teacher's register shows his certification expired a month-and-a-half ago.