Pedophile who kept girls' school uniforms, underwear and whips was allowed to work on children's TV show
A convicted pedophile who was caught with school uniforms and young girls' underwear, managed to circumvent a background check and was allowed to work on a children's TV show, court documents allege. The pedophile, whose identity has not been revealed, first came to the attention of authorities last year when social media platform Kik reported he had uploaded child abuse files on his account, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Kik provided investigators with the IP addresses for the images, as well as usernames and email addresses of the three accounts that were allegedly used to distribute the child sex abuse images. In May 2019, authorities raided his property and seized at least six devices containing thousands of videos and images depicting graphic child abuse, bestiality, and torture. One of the devices, which could not be initially opened "due to the level of encryption," was cracked in February this year and found to contain more child exploitation files.
Court documents state they found school girls' uniforms in a bedside table, whips, a large collection of sex toys, and two large bags containing young girls' underwear as well. Investigators also uncovered meth, two tabs of LSD, and a glass pipe which he is believed to have used to smoke the drugs in a locked safe located inside a wardrobe. The suspect, who had been previously jailed for sexually abusing underage girls, had been working as a contractor on children's TV show 'What Now' and had been sent to at least 10 schools during his employment, investigators learned.
He was arrested last year at Auckland Studio following the search of his home and has reportedly been charged with 14 counts of possessing, distributing, exporting and making child sex abuse material, and two counts of drug possession. The charge of "making" child sex abuse material is related to the defendant recording child sex abuse footage from the screen on which he was watching it, with GPS data confirming several of the recordings had been made at his address.
If convicted, he could face up to 14 years in jail. He has pleaded not guilty to his charges and is scheduled to make his next appearance in court next month.
The company that hired him for 'What Now,' Whitebait Media, has apologized for not vetting him thoroughly. Janine Morrell-Gunn, the co-owner, said they terminated him as soon as they learned of his criminal background. She said the company was "only following police advice that freelance contractors were not required to undergo vetting" and said it was a mistake not to conduct a thorough background check. "In hindsight, this was a failure on our part and one which we are deeply sorry for," she said. "We now require police vetting of ALL staff, contractors, and freelancers to ensure this never ever happens again."
She also insisted that Whitebait Media had adult supervision on-site during rehearsals and recordings and that children had never been left alone with crew members. "We have never received any complaints about this contractor," she said. "We will continue to monitor and improve our procedures to uphold our duty of care to ensure the safety of children."