An Auckland rugby coach found guilty of 95 charges of sexually abusing young boys has been sentenced to 22 years’ jail.

Alosio Taimo, 56, will serve a minimum imprisonment period of 10 years for crimes committed across three decades against boys aged between 9 and 16 at the time.

Today in the High Court at Auckland, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes argued for Taimo to be sentenced to preventive detention due to the seriousness of and his denial of the offending.

“We cannot say that his risk will be reduced at any point in the future.”

Published in NZ Herald

Rhodes said Taimo had been given the specific diagnosis of paedophilia.

There is a “collective undercurrent” that the 17 people he offended against were survivors who refused to be ruined by the offending, Rhodes said.

These were strong, proud, and successful men who would overcome their ordeals in spite of Taimo, not because of him, he said.

Taimo’s defence lawyer Panama Le’au’anae argued for a finite sentence, adding the parole board would act as gatekeepers with their restrictions.

“He is not coming out any time soon.”

Justice Simon Moore said his crimes were “unprecedented in this country” and called the sheer scale extraordinary.

Taimo had claimed during the trial that the men who had come forward were lying.

“It was you [who] the jury determined was a liar,” Justice Moore told Taimo.

“It now seems you accept, belatedly and only in part, what that procession of courageous young men described. And so I approach my description of the tragic facts on that basis.”

Taimo’s offending used “gross breaches of trust”.

Throughout, in a “subtle and cynical way”, Taimo controlled them whether that was
through bribes or threats, he said.

Sometimes Taimo would feign crying to manipulate them, he said.

“You knew the boys would never dare complain and even if they did they would never be
believed: the words of a boy pitched against the reputation of a respected senior
community leader.”

The 56-year-old had been well respected in the Samoan community, the court heard.

Justice Moore said he had heard from parents who felt like they had failed their children, and of course they did nothing wrong and did not deserve to feel that way.

“The boys’ parents worshipped you for what they believed was your kindness and generosity. Many could not afford the costs of transport.

“They saw you as something of a saviour. You ingratiated your way into their families.”

It was no hyperbole to say it the offending had devastated the lives of 17 boys and young men, he said.

“These are victims who are not broken.

“To adopt Mr Rhodes’ words, ‘These are proud, strong and successful people’.”

When considering the sentence, Justice Moore said Taimo could not claim previous good conduct.

“You continued to offend right up until you were arrested,” Justice Moore said.

“At least you have made a start on what will be a long road to rehabilitation.”

It was crucial that Taimo had acknowledged he needed rehabilitation, he said.

“You are not an old man in biological years but neither are you young. Your physical health is poor. You suffered a heart attack in 2014 and underwent a triple bypass.”

In the future he would be registered on the child sex offender list, he said.

“Without doubt, you have completely destroyed any sense of trust you previously enjoyed within your community. I expect you will be totally and permanently ostracised.”

At the very least Taimo would never be trusted around children again, he said.

In determining the sentence Justice Moore used a combined starting point of 23 years imprisonment which was reduced to 22 for personal factors of remorse, historic abuse suffered by Taimo and ill health.

Preventive detention was not imposed, largely because Taimo would not pose significant risk to the community if released due to his registration as a child sex offender alongside the potential of an extended supervision order, the court heard.

Taimo had also shown some insight into offending and situational nature of offending, the court heard.

Initially, there were nine complainants and 53 charges against Taimo, who came to New Zealand from Samoa in 1987 and initially moved in with his sister in the suburb of Ōtara.

After the Herald and other media published Taimo’s name more complainants came forward.

The allegations grew to 83 charges and 18 complainants.

During his trial the charges grew again to 106, while the Crown also revealed a graphic photograph found on Taimo’s phone showing him engaged in a sexual act with a young man.

Detective Inspector Colin Higson said it was a challenging case due to the number of victims and the gravity of the offending, which occurred over three decades.

The offending first came to light when a complaint was made to police in 2016 and further victims were identified and came forward as a result of the criminal proceedings in court.

“I want to thank the victims in this matter for their bravery to come forward and disclose the abuse,” Higson said.

“Their actions have enabled Taimo to be held accountable for this abuse.

“While we know there are no winners in this matter, we hope today’s outcome will go some way towards allowing the victims in this case to move on with their lives.”

Today, the long lasting and devastating affects of his crimes were heard in seven victim impact statements.

‘I stand here before the courts not as a victim but as a survivor’

The first complainant who spoke told the High Court it was a deep dark secret he had carried bottled up.

Sights and sounds continued to remind him of what had happened, he said.

“I knew I had to move away,” he said.

“For many years I have been a prisoner in my own mind thinking I was classified as damaged goods.”

His soul had suffered such trauma “at the hands of this coward”.

Even being around family and friends he felt unsafe as he began to prefer isolation, he said.

“I had hit rock bottom.”

But he said he knew he needed to break the silence and was not a victim but a survivor.

‘Justice will be served today’

The next complainant reflected on how he hoped today would be a day of closure for those who had been abused by Taimo.

“I’m not angry anymore. I faced those demons long ago,” he said.

“I forgive you for what you did. Forgiveness is the hardest part…”

The biggest challenge was the fight within – the mental challenges that come with such an event, he said.

“How can you call yourself a man of faith? And have the devil dictate your needs?

“Justice will be served today.”

Survivor’s mother: ‘I hope you rot in jail’

Through tears a mother of one the complainants spoke to the court about how she felt.

“I have never hated something or someone so much,” she said.

“Wishing you dead is wrong, because death is a quick way out.”

Her hatred for Taimo would be a sin she carried with her every day, she said.

She would always be weary of monsters like him, she said.

“I want you to know how successful my son is without you in his life.

“I hope you rot in jail.”

Suppression orders prevent the Herald from naming any schools or sports clubs associated with Taimo’s alleged offending.

During the trial, a woman associated with the case was also accused of contempt of court.

The charge came after two jurors told Justice Moore she approached them to talk about the case, while also offering home-baked muffins.

By Chelsea Boyle
Published in NZ Herald
22 February 2019