Disappointing news for the Power Rangers fan community this week. After first denying the accusations lobbied against him, actor Rene Naufahu pled guilty to no less than six charges of indecent assault late last year, and in the Auckland District Court of New Zealand, sentencing has finally commenced. Fans of his time on the childrens fantasy show may know him as the alien villain Gruumm in 2005’s Power Rangers SPD, or as the mentor to a group of martial arts pupils in 2011’s Power Rangers Samurai. It would seem that the alarming trend of sexual misconduct cases that pervades our society today will truly leave no stone unturned, and that includes the casts of this beloved TV series.
New Zealand publication Stuff lays out the upsetting details, which stretch back to 2011 where Naufahu worked as an instructor for a series of acting classes.
For a period of three years, he admits, he would invite young female students for private sessions where various acts were committed against these women, described as “push-pull” or “let me in, let me out” exercises. Myriad instances of unwanted touching are described, which were followed by a request not to speak of the events. Radio New Zealand reports his assertion that “he didn’t want other students to become jealous”.
Judge Rob Ronayne, who presided over the sentencing this week, noted distastefully of Naufahu’s apparent lack of remorse and seeming concern more for his own well being than those of the victims he “publicly shamed” by “denying the offending”.
Ron Mansfield, Naufahu’s lawyer, expresses a jarringly different view on the actor’s victims. “The complainants were offended against when his enthusiasm and passion for the craft became personal,” he said.
Under normal circumstances, in a typical American court, one might ponder Naufahu’s fate when others met him behind bars and their passions also became personal, but this story seems to have a different ending. The court’s response to Naufahu’s crimes against students under his tutelage was house detention for one year.
Prosecuting attorney Kirsten Lummis stated that Naufahu “had blamed the victims during an interview with a pre-sentence report writer”, after having earlier told them that “he believed they were very talented actors and he wanted to develop their talent”.