The Crown has opened its case in opposition to a former CYF caregiver who it says sexually abused eight boys in his care, rewarding some with medication and intimidating one into silence with gang involvement and a loss of life menace.
The Excessive Courtroom trial of Earl William Opetaia, a former boxing coach and Baby, Youth and Household-approved (CYF) carer, started at this time in Auckland.
Opetaia denies all 33 costs in opposition to him, together with sexual violation, indecency in opposition to boys below 16, provide of hashish and methamphetamine, and threatening to kill.
His attorneys say the claims are solely made up in a bid by the complainants to get compensation.
Over a five-year interval within the early to mid-2000s, Earl Opetaia ran an Auckland house for CYF.
CYF was a authorities company and predecessor to Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Kids.
Greater than 150 boys hung out in his care throughout this time, together with Liam Ashley, a youngster who was murdered at the back of a jail van by George Charlie Baker in 2006.
Eight of those boys have alleged severe sexual abuse by Opetaia, as Crown prosecutor Belle Archibald outlined to the jury.
“He was alleged to look after them. And slightly than present these boys with the secure and safe atmosphere that they desperately wanted, Mr Opetaia used them. Mr Opetaia was paid by the state to look after these boys, and as a substitute he exploited them for his personal sexual gratification.”
Archibald mentioned the boys – many below 16 and all below 18 on the time – have been susceptible and from troublesome houses.
In his position as their caregiver, she mentioned Opetaia sexually abused boys over a variety of years. Opetaia allegedly instructed one boy “I get what I need, once I need”. Most of the particulars of the allegations are too graphic to report.
She mentioned one boy, 15 years outdated on the time, was invited into his room with treats earlier than being abused.
“He made him a milo, gave him a biscuit, and so they shared a hashish joint.” The boy mentioned he was then sexually abused.
Archibald mentioned the boys mentioned they got medication as a reward after being abused, and Opetaia provided one boy pizza and a fizzy drink.
To maintain it quiet, Archibald mentioned, Opetaia intimidated them.
“Most of the males have been threatened by Opetaia to not inform anybody what was occurring to them. ‘Do not inform anybody otherwise you’ll get crushed up. I will get the gang on you. Dangerous issues will occur to your loved ones. No one will imagine you’.”
And he allegedly instructed one: “Should you open your mouth, when you say something, I will kill you or dangle you off the balcony by your neck.”
One other boy was in Opetaia’s look after simply someday – a day by which he alleges Opetaia compelled the boy to the touch him inappropriately, earlier than providing him pizza and his favorite fizzy drink. As soon as the boy might get away, Archibald mentioned, he escaped out a window, jumped over fences and ran for over two hours to get to a home of a good friend and by no means returned.
Opetaia denies all the costs.
His lawyer, Anoushka Bloem, mentioned the claims have been “fabricated” and the complainants have made the conditions up within the hope they’d be compensated for being abused in state care.
She mentioned Opetaia, coming from a troublesome background himself, had a ardour for serving to troubled younger individuals and setting them on a greater path.
“What Opetaia says is that he didn’t abuse them, sexually or bodily. He didn’t damage them – he helped them,” Bloem mentioned.
“He cared about these younger males that discovered themselves in CYF’s care … there have been many success tales from the younger males that he helped. The defence case is that these success tales are incompatible with these complaints. Why? As a result of they aren’t true.”
It was revealed in court docket that Opetaia had been convicted and did jail time for a 2014 assault of a separate, unrelated underage individual. That grievance lead police to launch this investigation.
Bloem mentioned the complainants on this case didn’t complain till they have been approached by police following the 2014 conviction.
She mentioned that they had a historical past of mendacity, as evidenced by a quantity having prison convictions, and made up their claims of sexual abuse in order that they could possibly be compensated financially.
She mentioned Opetaia by no means offended in opposition to any of the boys in CYF’s care.
“That is how the seed was planted for the brand new false allegations, as a result of Mr Opetaia grew to become a goal. As soon as he was really convicted of assaulting an adolescent, he was low-hanging fruit – ripe for the choosing for false complaints. Who would imagine him now?” Bloem mentioned.
The jury will hear proof from a variety of the complainants.
The trial earlier than Justice Gault is about down for six weeks.