Charles John Michael HARTER - 06/01/2016


Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Charles John Michael HARTER

Hearing: 6 January 2016
at [Withheld] via AVL to NZPB Head Office

Decision Made: 7 January 2016

Members of the Board:

Alan Ritchie (Panel Convenor)

Ms S Driver

Dr P Taylor

Counsel: [Withheld]

Support Persons: [Withheld]


1. Charles John Michael Harter, 64, appeared for the further consideration of parole on his sentence of three years four months on nine representative charges of indecent assault against nine female music lesson students all under 12.

2. Aside from an [Withheld] driving offence in 2007, Mr Harter has no other criminal record and has not been in prison before.

3. The prison security classification is minimum, the RoC*RoI of 0.04541 and the sentence expiry date is 2 January 2018.

4. On 6 October 2014 the Board noted very good prison behaviour, work with the prison [Withheld] and a large amount of family and other support in the community.

5. At that hearing the Board looked closely at rehabilitative needs in the context of the sentence plan of a [Withheld] Programme at [Withheld] with the prospect of a place on that programme in mid 2016.  [Withheld] had submitted that the rehabilitative work undertaken by Mr Harter with the assistance of two psychologists far exceeded anything that would be required for the completion of the [Withheld] Programme.  Mr Harter was also committed to reinforcing that work with a community-based programme.

6. A problem at the last hearing arose over accommodation.  [Withheld] urged that the departmental assessment of unsuitability failed to take account of the low risk of re offending (according to the psychological assessment) and the nature of the index offending which occurred in a very narrow set of circumstances which would be carefully managed through Community Corrections’ oversight and conditions.

7. The parole assessment report for today’s hearing underscores Mr Harter’s continuing good behaviour and contribution to the prison community including through the production of a regular newsletter for the [Withheld].

8. It also referred to the development of a safety plan which he had presented to his support people.  He had found it extremely difficult to discuss his offending in detail with them but had felt it to be a necessary part of his rehabilitative process.

9. The Board advised Mr Harter that ahead of this hearing there had been a meeting with representatives of one of the victims.  They had indicated the prospect of restorative justice at some point to assist them in dealing with what they regard as a life sentence imposed on them.  They saw merit in Mr Harter completing a prison-based programme.  They certainly opposed any release to Hawke’s Bay.

10. As he had done in October 2015, Mr Harter responded with emotion and evident sincerity to the victims concerned.  He acknowledged the trauma and hurt that he has caused to the victims and their families and would respond readily to any restorative justice initiative.

11. On Mr Harter’s behalf, [Withheld] reiterated his October submissions.  In particular he noted that Community Corrections had now deemed the Wellington address as suitable.  He referred again to the high level of rehabilitative intervention beyond what the sentence planned programme could be expected to provide, to the low risk and to the strong support.

12. This Board acknowledges the paramount consideration we must have to community safety and to the interests of victims.  We must also have regard to other guiding principles in the Parole Act.  One of those is that the offender must not be detained any longer than is consistent with the safety of the community.

13. In that regard, and in accordance with section 28(2) of the Act, we are satisfied on what we consider to be reasonable grounds that if Mr Harter is released he will not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community or any person or class of person.  In reaching that view we have, as required by that section, had regard to the support and supervision available to him and to the public interest in his reintegration as a law abiding citizen.

14. Mr Harter will be released on [Withheld] January 2016.  He will be subject to the standard conditions set out in section 14 of the Parole Act and the following special conditions with all conditions continuing until the statutory release date.
(1) Attend for a psychological assessment. Attend and complete any treatment/counselling as recommended by the psychological assessment to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer and treatment provider.
(2) Undertake and complete appropriate treatment/counselling or programme, including if possible the [Withheld] programme, to the satisfaction of the Probation Officer and treatment provider.
(3) To reside at [Withheld – address is in the Wellington region] and not to move from that address without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(4) Not to enter the region of Hawkes Bay as defined on a map provided by your Probation Officer except where you have the prior written approval of the Probation Officer.
(5) To notify your Probation Officer before starting, terminating or changing your position or place of employment whether paid or unpaid.
(6) Not to participate in any community activity, group/programme (including being part of a music band) without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(7) Not to associate or otherwise have contact with any female under the age of 16, directly or indirectly, unless under direct supervision of an informed adult who has been approved in writing by the Probation Officer. An informed adult is a person over the age of 20 years who is fully aware of your previous offending and high risk situations, and in the opinion of the Probation Officer will not support or collude with any further offending.
(8) Not to have contact or otherwise associate with any victim of your offending, directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written consent of your Probation Officer.

Alan Ritchie
Panel Convenor