Paedophile cheerleading coach denied parole

Sex predator Nikola Michael Marinovich (right) is helped into a car by his lawyer outside Auckland District Court in 2020. Photo: Michael Craig
Sex predator Nikola Michael Marinovich (right) is helped into a car by his lawyer outside Auckland District Court in 2020. Photo: Michael Craig
A paedophile cheerleading coach who worked as a cameraman on a popular kids' TV show has been denied parole while he seeks treatment for his depraved "sexual interest in children".

Nikola Michael Marinovich was jailed in September 2020 for three and a half years for possessing, making and distributing graphic child abuse material - some of which depicted the abuse of infants.

Customs officers raided Marinovich's home in 2019 and found more than 4600 objectionable images and video files on his devices. He had downloaded the material in his bedroom, often while high on controlled drugs, including methamphetamine.

Marinovich, 35, is the former executive director of now defunct Total Cheerleading in West Auckland. He was jailed in 2013 for repeatedly abusing several of his students after plying them with spirits then assaulting them in his car and home.

In July 2020 the Herald revealed that while awaiting trial on the Customs charges, the sexual predator was hired to work at a national cheerleading competition - despite bail conditions prohibiting contact with minors.

The Herald also revealed the convicted paedophile had worked as a cameraman on TVNZ-commissioned and NZ on Air-funded kids' TV show What Now, giving him access to a number of schools and children's homes.

The production company which hired Marinovich, Whitebait Media, later apologised for failing to properly vet the cameraman.

The saga sparked a major review of vetting procedures in the screen industry, calls by the Children's Commissioner for an overhaul of child protection laws, and a terse reprimand of TVNZ by NZ on Air.

Marinovich, who is due for release in January 2024, appeared before the Parole Board for the first time in September last year.

A decision by Parole Board chair Sir Ron Young, obtained by the Herald, says Marinovich told the board he was not offered any rehabilitative programmes by Corrections during his first stint in prison, but instead hired a private psychologist.

"He said that over the years, while initially he was able to use the skills given to him by the psychologist, as time went on, that commitment deteriorated. Eventually he started using drugs and alcohol again and then eventually slipped into the use of child pornography."

Though Marinovich's lawyer argued he should be released, the Parole Board ruled he remained an "undue risk" and needed to complete a child sex offender treatment programme.

"There are now two very serious series of events where Mr Marinovich has been sentenced to a total of over six years' prison relating to his interest in child sexuality. We consider it vital for his risk that the first part of his rehabilitation be undertaken in prison.

"After that rehabilitation is completed, we would then want a psychological report which we order today so that we can better understand his risk.

"As we have said, this offending, intermittently spanned a period of total of 15 years. His sexual interest in children has continued and understanding his risk and what rehabilitation might be necessary is we think vital."

The Parole Board accepted that Marinovich was "motivated" to undertake rehabilitation. It asked for details of available accommodation to be provided ahead of his next hearing in June.



Sponsored Content








Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter