31 Oct 2013

Former principal facing child sex charges

9:04 pm on 31 October 2013

Leaders of a Northland Christian School are speaking to senior students and staff after its former principal was charged with historical sex offences against children.

Raymond George Melrose has appeared in the Kaikohe District Court on 12 serious charges involving boys aged 12 to 16 and another relating to a boy under 12.

Mr Melrose, 68, was suspended from his job as principal of the Kaikohe Christian School at the beginning of the year after the abuse allegations surfaced. He resigned at the start of term two.

Board of Trustees chair Mike Norman says the charges date back 40 years, to when Mr Melrose was teaching in another region, and there have been no complaints about him during his years in Northland.

However, Mr Norman says he was shocked when he learned of the allegations and is writing to parents and telling teachers and older pupils on Thursday about the charges.

Mr Norman says the school may set up an 0800 number, so past and present students who might have concerns about Mr Melrose can raise them in confidence. He says the school wants to give students every chance to reveal anything they might have kept secret.

Raymond Melrose is the second teacher to have appeared in Northland courts this week charged with sexual offending against children.

James Sanders was remanded in custody after appearing in the Kaitaia District Court on Wednesday. The 65-year-old Northland polytech teacher faces 24 charges of sexual offending against young girls dating back to 2007.

Group says more willing to report abuse

A group campaigning against child abuse in the Far North says it suspects an apparent epidemic of sexual offending in the region is a sign that more children are now prepared to report it.

Tu Tika says it believes more children may be identifying what has been happening to them as abuse and coming forward. If so, it says that is an up-side to what has been a very difficult year for the Far North community.

Community worker Stephen Allen says recent publicity over offenders including Pamapuria teacher James Parker, who has been sentenced to preventive detention, may be encouraging more children to make complaints.

Mr Allen has worked with whanau hurt by Parker's offending and says families, communities and children are feeling more empowered to say abuse is not acceptable and that they won't tolerate it.