A Marlborough priest will face internal disciplinary action from the Catholic Church after he was discharged without conviction for indecently assaulting a teenage boy.
Alastair Aidan Kay, 71, appeared in the Blenheim District Court today after pleading guilty at an earlier appearance.
Judge Bruce Davidson told the court his decision was a close call.
"In my view, the offence in itself is of lowish-level seriousness. By the narrowest of margins, I am prepared to exercise my discretion," he said.
"I find that the consequences of conviction are out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence and I exercise my residual discretion to discharge you without conviction."
Wellington Archbishop John Dew said Father Kay was no longer in the ministry, and his order was carrying out its own professional standards investigation into the case.
Father Kay's lawyer, Rob Harrison, said his client still had to answer to the Vatican.
"I think he's extremely relieved with this particular aspect but it's not over for him, and there's going to be other things that are going to happen to him, with his order and also with the Roman Catholic Church.
"So this isn't the end of the process for him. He still has to answer to his Order and the Church."