ZB ZB
Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Listen to NAME OF STATION
Up next
Listen live on
ZB

Girl as young as six among gymnastics coach's victims

Author
Natalie Akoorie,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Jan 2024, 1:40PM
Gregory Pask was a trusted member of the community and coach at the Blenheim Gymnastics Club when he sexually abused girls for almost a decade. Photo / NZME
Gregory Pask was a trusted member of the community and coach at the Blenheim Gymnastics Club when he sexually abused girls for almost a decade. Photo / NZME

Girl as young as six among gymnastics coach's victims

Author
Natalie Akoorie,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Jan 2024, 1:40PM

WARNING: This story details disturbing sexual abuse against children and may be upsetting.

Gregory David Pask was such a trusted member of the Blenheim Gymnastics Club that he was able to take young girls away on trips without their parents and have them sleep over at his house unchaperoned.

But behind the veneer of the harmless, helpful “grandfather figure” was a monster who molested four girls, one as young as 6, by sexually violating them in their sleep and making videos of his heinous crimes.

The 61-year-old serial sex offender pleaded guilty in the Blenheim District Court in December to 29 charges for offending that spanned almost a decade from 2014.

The predator worked as a coach at the gymnastics club for 25 years until he was caught in September last year, according to a police summary of facts of the case released to NZME today.

As coach, Pask had contact with 180 children per week, most of them young girls aged between 7 and 11.

As well as being a coach, Pask took gymnasts to competitions outside Blenheim.

“Many of these trips have involved him taking girls away, without their parents, and staying in accommodation with the children,” the summary read.

Up until his arrest Pask had been a trusted member of the Blenheim community, “to the point where several families have allowed their daughters to stay at his house during weekends and holidays”.

The first victim, a gymnast at the club, began staying at Pask’s house almost every week between the ages of 6 and 10 and saw him as a “grandfather figure”.

She also travelled with him to gymnastics meets.

The first time he offended against the girl was in November 2019, when she was 6 and staying at his house overnight.

While sexually violating the girl, he took multiple photos of himself doing so, and of her private parts.

Gregory Pask when he was still a coach at the Blenheim Gymnastics Club in December 2019.

Gregory Pask when he was still a coach at the Blenheim Gymnastics Club in December 2019.

From then on he repeated the repugnant acts seven more times over several years while she was seven, 8 and 9 years old, each time while she was staying at his house.

The last time, in early January 2023, he made videos of himself violating her.

The second victim was an 11-year-old girl who also attended the gymnastics club where Pask coached.

She stayed overnight at his house multiple times and travelled away with him to gymnastics competitions.

A few days after Pask offended against the first victim, in early January last year, he had the second victim to stay at his house.

During the night he violated the girl in the same way and took multiple photos of himself doing it and of her private parts.

In August last year the girl was staying in the same hotel room as Pask during a gymnastics competition in Christchurch.

During the night, Pask videoed himself rubbing the victim’s vagina on the outside of her underwear while she slept.

A month later, the girl stayed overnight at his house again and he repeated the first violations.

Following that assault, a complaint was made to police about it.

A third victim was a 13-year-old girl from Christchurch who visited Pask from time to time with her mother.

Pask also stayed at their family home in Christchurch during some of his weekend gymnastics trips.

Between December 2015 and May 2019, the victim was staying at Pask’s house during a holiday with her mum, who had gone out and left her daughter in Pask’s care on two consecutive nights.

On both nights, Pask violated the girl while she slept.

The fourth victim was another 13-year-old girl who was a close family friend of the first victim and was living with the young girl’s family while her own mother lived in Christchurch.

In late March 2019, the girl was asleep in bed at the friend’s home with Pask in charge while the younger girl’s mother was out of town at a work conference.

During the night, Pask reached under the young teen’s bedcovers and touched her vagina with his fingers.

On another occasion that year, Pask drove the girl to see her family in Christchurch for the weekend.

As she slept in the front passenger seat, he reached into her underwear and touched her vagina with his fingers.

After the 11-year-old girl’s complaint in September last year, police raided Pask’s house and found multiple digital storage devices in his bedroom.

On them were multiple images that appeared to be downloaded from the internet depicting girls as young as toddlers and up to 10 years old being used for sex.

There were also other images of similar-aged girls being used for sexual activity with adults and indecent images that did not involve sex.

“These images include the nude posing and sexualised dressing-up of children.”

In all, there were 11 charges of unlawful sexual connection with a girl under 12, three of doing an indecent act on a girl under 12, 12 of knowingly making an objectionable publication (child exploitation) and three of possessing an objectionable publication.

When the offending became public in December, the Blenheim Gymnastics Club said it was “shocked and appalled” to learn of the abuse.

Detective Sergeant Ash Clarke said Pask was a well-known figure in the Blenheim community for many years and had been in continual contact with children and young people.

“Police believe there may be further victims, and we ask anyone who was a victim or their family, to come forward and report what occurred to police.

“We understand it can be hard to come forward and report incidents of this nature, but we would like to reassure you police take these matters seriously and have a number of officers and detectives dedicated to these cases, we will ensure you have a safe space to report offending in confidence.”

She said victims can contact police on 105 or go into a local police station and reference file number: 230903/8087.

Pask is to be sentenced in April.

Additional reporting by Tracy Neal.

SEXUAL HARM

Where to get help:
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.

Natalie Akoorie is a senior reporter based in Waikato and covering crime and justice nationally. Natalie first joined the Herald in 2011 and has been a journalist in New Zealand and overseas for 28 years, more recently covering health, social issues, local government, and the regions.

 

 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you