Convicted Gloriavale man wants to teach

Joanne Naish



Stuff NZ Newspapers


A man working as a teacher at Gloriavale Christian Community who assaulted and verbally abused children in his care hopes to teach there again. Vigilant Standtrue, 39, pleaded guilty in the Greymouth District Court in November to three charges of assaulting three boys aged between 9 and 11. Charges relating to a fourth boy were earlier withdrawn. Yesterday, he was convicted by Judge Stephen O’Driscoll and sentenced to 12 months’ supervision. The judge said Standtrue, who represented himself, assaulted the boys in seven incidents between 2017 and 2021 while he was working as a teacher in the school and as a supervisor in the community gardens. He pushed and shook the children for minor mistakes and called one an idiot and a moron. Standtrue applied for a discharge without conviction, submitting to the court that a conviction would be out of proportion with the gravity of the offending and would impact his chances of being able to teach again. Judge O’Driscoll said the Teaching Council’s investigation into Standtrue’s fitness to teach was separate from the court proceeding. He said the council had confirmed it would make a decision based on the findings of its complaints assessment committee regardless of whether Standtrue was convicted or not. Standtrue said he had a limited authority to teach from the Teaching Council, but had signed an undertaking not to teach since he was first charged. A limited authority to teach enables people without a teaching qualification to teach in positions where there is need for specialist skills or skills are in short supply. The Crown had opposed Standtrue’s application for a discharge without conviction and asked for a special condition that he be given mentoring by a Greymouth primary school teacher. ‘‘A person from outside the community would be a good influence,’’ prosecutor Mitchell McClenaghan said. Standtrue questioned whether that would be possible given he was not vaccinated against Covid-19. He said he had completed an anger management course and reflected on his actions. ‘‘I believe that the change has been real and I’m grateful that I got those six months previous to being charged,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t had any contact with children since being charged. I feel those changes are real as those references attest to.’’ A pre-sentence report recommended Standtrue not be convicted. It said he was teaching and supervising children without any skills, training or support. It said his risk of reoffending was low. Judge O’Driscoll said he had seen references from community members about Standtrue’s ‘‘skills and abilities in the community, particularly in helping children with special needs’’. The victim impact statement from one of the boys said he was afraid of Standtrue and tried to stay away from him. ‘‘He was always on edge and trying to avoid you and avoid any confrontation with you.’’