The man is charged with sexual exploitation and sexual violation of teenagers. (File photo)
A Northland man facing 20 charges of sexual violation and exploitation will continue to keep his name secret until he faces trial next year.
The 35-year-old Paihia man was one of five men arrested as part of an alleged underage sex trafficking ring in Northland, but he denies guilt.
He faces four charges of sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old, 11 charges of unlawful sexual connection with a 15-year-old, two charges of doing an indecent act on a 15-year-old, two charges of sexual violation of a 14-year-old and one of sexual violation of a 15-year-old.
The offending allegedly took place in Paihia between December 2019 and February 2020.
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A seven-day trial has been set for April 2021.
In the High Court in Whangārei on Thursday, Justice Timothy Brewer allowed the man’s name suppression to continue until the trial.
The man, who did not appear in court on Thursday, remains in custody.
If found guilty, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The alleged underage sex trafficking case has rocked the Far North community, in part out of dismay with the light sentences handed down to those who admitted guilt.
In September, there were protests outside Kaikohe District Court after Kaitaia businessman Marcus Barker, 55, was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention for unlawful sexual connection with a 15-year-old, receiving sexual services from her and arranging for her to supply sexual services.
The home detention sentences were repeated for Pentecostal church leader Michael Cornelis Weitenberg, 55, and Kawakawa’s Owen James Sigley, 67, who both admitted receiving commercial sexual services from a 15-year-old.
A fourth man, Calvin Fairburn, 37, will be sentenced on November 20, after being charged with receiving sexual services and unlawful sexual connection with a 15-year-old.