A 43-year old woman teacher aide seen as a role model for young Maori, who had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy, has been jailed for three years six months.
Raelyn Jacquelyn Te Moni, now aged 44 and training to be a chef, had been found guilty by a jury on four charges of having sexual connection with a young person. One was a representative charge indicating repeated offending.
Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan said she was seen as a respected member of the community and a role model for young Maori. She had spent a long time giving assistance and support to the community which made the offending even harder to understand.
The judge said the evidence showed full sexual intercourse had taken place eight or nine times.
Te Moni continues to deny the offending and the jury’s verdicts, but the judge described the relationship as “predatory behaviour”.
The judge said there had been a significant breach of trust in Te Moni’s actions, including aspects of grooming and planning.
Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said Te Moni denied the offending but accepted that she “crossed professional boundaries” by having the boy at her home several times.
Her worst fears over the prosecution had been realised with the loss of her job and publicity which had caused embarrassment and trauma for her family.
She had no previous similar convictions and had engaged in counselling.
Crown prosecutor Pip Currie said there had been an abuse of trust with a vulnerable victim, when the age difference had been significant.
Judge Callaghan told Te Moni: “Your evidence, in my view, carried a distinct lack of credibility given that you had the complainant at your property on numerous occasions, in your bedroom with the door closed, and you said nothing had occurred.”
He said there was no issue about absence of consent. “The whole purpose of protecting young people is because of the power imbalance where somebody is much older and is supposed to know better.”
Family members called out messages of love and support from the public seating as Te Moni was taken to the cells to begin her sentence. She has been on bail during the remand for sentencing.