Southern principal’s husband a convicted sex offender | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

By Richard Davison, Evelyn Thorn and Sam Sherwood of

Catlins Area School in Owaka.

Catlins Area School in Owaka.
Photo: Google Maps

Concerns have been raised after revelations the husband of a Catlins school principal is a convicted sex offender who attempted to rape a tourist in a toilet cubicle while armed with a knife.

Catlins Area School principal Glenys Hanley’s husband Simon Melville was convicted of a serious sexual assault in February 2007.

On 29 September this year, an anonymous individual sent staff and parents an email about Melville’s past, with screenshots of a Dominion Post article describing his conviction attached.

The email said Melville was regularly on school grounds and participated in school activities and his involvement needed to be addressed and discussed openly.

The article describes how Melville, high on drink and drugs and armed with a knife, attacked a 23-year-old English female tourist in the toilet block of a Kaikōura camping ground on the afternoon of 23 February, 2007.

He performed “four indecent acts during the 10-minute attack, during which his victim was trapped in cubicle”, it said.

Following an early guilty plea, he was convicted on one charge of attempted rape, three of sexual violation and assault with a weapon and sentenced to six years in prison.

Hanley, accompanied by Melville and their children, moved to the Catlins and took up the role of principal in 2021.

The school caters to pupils from years 1 to 13.

When contacted, Hanley referred the Otago Daily Times (ODT) to the school’s board of trustees.

Board chairperson Simon Walker issued a statement yesterday, which did not refute the claims.

“We are aware of some information being circulated anonymously and ask that any information being discussed or shared with you about any school community member is managed responsibly and with due consideration.

“It is important that our students’ education and welfare remains the focus, and they are not impacted by any community dialogue or media reporting.

“We take very seriously our responsibilities and have the required policies and procedures in place to comply with all legislation governing our school operations …”

In an email to staff, seen by The New Zealand Herald, Walker said the board was aware of some information being circulated about “the spouse of a staff member”.

“The Board of Trustees feels it is important to note that we are aware of this information and fully support all of our staff,” the email said.

“We would respectfully ask that any information being discussed about any school community member is done so with consideration and care – it is important that our students’ education and welfare, along with our staff’s wellbeing, remains our focus, and they are not impacted by any community dialogue.”

A parent who received the anonymous email spoke to the ODT yesterday on condition of anonymity.

They said while the conviction raised issues the situation raised were “complex”, it came down to matters of judgement and Hanley should resign as a result.

“It’s put everyone in a very difficult situation.”

A parent of a former pupil, who also did not wish to be named, said the couple and their family were “nice people” and deserved to leave past transgressions behind.

“[Mr Melville] has done his time and, like all of us, deserves a second chance.”

“Unfortunately, in any small community you get nasty, small-minded people who are unable to look at the bigger picture. It’s just a very sad situation for everyone concerned.”

Melville, a first offender, was released on parole after his first appearance before the Parole Board, in 2009.

The report, obtained by the Herald, said Melville was “in pursuit of a rape fantasy” when he sexually abused his victim.

He pleaded guilty to the charges at an “early opportunity” and was seen as a prisoner who had “demonstrated very good conduct”.

He had undertaken rehabilitative work and acknowledged his problems with alcohol.

“We see the reports that have been filed as being very positive and Mr Melville is well aware of the impact of his offending on the victim,” the report said.

It found he would not be an undue risk to the community if he followed through with the various parole conditions.

Those conditions included attending a community-based sex offenders’ treatment programme, an alcohol and drug counselling programme and to not undertake any employment in the tourist industry which brought him into direct contact with tourists.

Ministry of Education South Island leader Nancy Bell said the ministry was aware of information that had been circulated anonymously.

“All schools must have clear policies and procedures in place that comply with their governance responsibilities,” she said.

“Any parent with concerns about the safety and wellbeing of their child should contact the school in the first instance.

“We have received one anonymous complaint, which was referred to the school to manage through their formal complaints process.

“Employment matters should be directed to the board of trustees, as the employer.”

– This story originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times.

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