Actor Lee Rene Naufahu has been sentenced to one year of home detention for indecently assaulting six women.
The offending took place between 2011 to 2013 in Naufahu’s Auckland acting classes.
He initially denied any wrongdoing – and his admission came just a week before he was due to go on trial in the Auckland District Court. The judge said home detention, rather than a prison term, would better suit Naufahu’s efforts towards rehabilitation.
The Crown dropped 13 other charges against the former Shortland Street actor.
The court heard that Naufahu told the victims that they were “very talented actors and wanted to develop their talents”.
Crown prosecutor Kirsten Lummis said Naufahu had a “position of authority” over his victims, aged 18-24 at the time of the offending, who were in a vulnerable situation.
“It is the combination of age and the position of authority that makes it significant. It is widely recognised that a teacher-student relationship creates a power imbalance,” she said.
“It is this type of imbalance that the ‘MeToo’ campaign has highlighted in recent times.”
Where to get help
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline on: 0800227 233 (08002B SAFE).
• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• For more information about help for sexual assault survivors, go to Rape Prevention Education.