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Samoa waiting for AG to address questions about NZ sex offender

The Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, has yet to address questions about why a sex offender who was convicted of 25 indecency assault charges in New Zealand involving 11 young people in his care between 1978 and 1991, and was sentenced to jail for three and a half years, is allowed to operate a business in Samoa.

Mr. James Gilchrist, alias Jim Gilchrist, who is listed on a Sex Offenders website, is involved in a tourist resort at Lefaga.

Aumua was told that Mr. Jim Gilchrist was one of the speakers at the 'Invest Samoa' conference held in New Zealand last year.

And the questions were:

“(Is it right) that we don't allow people who have served more than a year in jail to enter our country?
Are you aware of his presence here?
Is he in the country legally?
Should people be made aware of his background?
Have you any comment to make about this person?

I look forward to your response.”

In his initial reply, Aumua noted, “I have met him once or twice in relation to his resort project in Samoa. But I was not aware of his criminal convictions. Let me get the relevant authorities to look into this person’s background. Thank you Ming.”

Despite a further email asking if there has been a response from the ‘relevant authorities’, there has been no further information.

James Gilchrist, 56, was jailed by the Auckland High Court in December 1991 when he was convicted of 25 indecent charges made against him.

Reports say that in 1988, Gilchrist, then a 34-year-old father of five, “with the backing and support of the Social Welfare Department, set up Heartbeat City Ministries, an Auckland Christian youth organization which catered for delinquent or disturbed youths.

“The department referred some cases to him. Some of the indecencies which Gilchrist admitted to, were committed while he was an administrator for Youth for Christ before 1988, others at Christian camps and in his own home.

“In December 1993, it was revealed that Gilchrist had been released and was helping run a taxpayer-funded quasi-Christian trust which, again, catered for disadvantaged youths.”

Reports say that at that time, the “convicted rapist Mark Stephens, also known as the Parnell Panther, was also helping to run the trust.

“Gilchrist was the office manager of Hauhanga Rongo Ministries Trust in Howick, Auckland.

“Two of its programmes were subsidized by the Taskforce Green scheme involving taxpayers' money of some $77,000.

“One of the programmes was a ‘hugs not drugs' programme implemented in schools and maraes.”

Asked for a comment, Mr. Gilchrist said he had been advised in a letter signed by the former Chief Immigration Officer, Auseugaefa Poloma Komiti, that he was permitted to come to Samoa as a visitor.



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