‘You’re not safe’: victim appalled by rapist’s release

A recidivist rapist will be released in Otago today and one of his victims has a message for the women of the region: “you’re not safe”.

Tavita Tuetue (65) will finally taste freedom after more than two decades behind bars after committing a horrifying series of sex attacks in Christchurch which began in 1980.

He was jailed several times before finally being sentenced to preventive detention - an open-ended prison term - in 2004.

While the location of Tuetue’s release has been withheld by the Parole Board, the Otago Daily Times understands it is in the greater Dunedin area.

The facility where he would be housed was staffed 24 hours a day and equipped with cameras and alarms, a Parole Board decision said.

But for a woman who suffered a harrowing attack at Tuetue’s hands, no restrictions would be enough to stop him.

“He’s pulled the wool over their eyes. We’re talking about a man who’s a master manipulator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a compulsive liar,” she said.

The victim’s message to women in the community: “He’s a recidivist predatory offender and you’re not safe . . . It’s not if, it’s when.”

She was only a teenager in 1988, flatting for the first time in Christchurch.

When the woman’s flatmate left for work early one morning, Tuetue crept in and held a pillow over her face to stifle the screams.

“He told me he was going to kill me,” she said. “I was absolutely terrified.”

Chillingly, she later discovered that just like Tuetue had with other victims, he had stalked her and waited for an opportune moment to pounce.

Since he became eligible for parole in 2010, the woman had made annual speeches to the Parole Board, arguing vehemently that he should remain behind bars.

She said she was “devastated” to hear Tuetue would be released.

However, panel convener Mary More said the prisoner’s risk could now be managed in the community and noted his exemplary behaviour in prison where he was described as “polite and having a positive attitude”.

Tuetue had completed a sex-offender programme and done two stints of psychological treatment, the board said.

He told the panel last month that the cause of his violent sexual streak was “harassment” he had suffered in the past.

“He said it took coming to jail to understand what was behind the offending, and he has now learned how to manage it,” Ms More said.

Tuetue said the antidote was to sit somewhere quiet if he found himself frustrated or stressed.

While his victim was now happily married with children, the mental scars remained in the form of PTSD and long-standing night terrors.

“I never ever feel safe in my own home,” she said. “He took away the best years of my life as a young adult.”

According to the parole report, Tuetue may spend a year in the specialist facility before moving to accommodation in Dunedin.

Among his release conditions were:

  • To submit to electronic monitoring
  • Not to go to Wellington or Christchurch
  • To attend programmes as directed by Probation
  • Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs
  • To inform Probation about employment or voluntary work
  • To inform Probation of the start of any intimate relationship
  • Not to contact any victim


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