Did Donald Parker use his job at Athletics Auckland to commit child abuse?
In late 2018, a political scandal erupted around National MP Jami-Lee Ross. which saw numerous women allege sexual misconduct:
“He would fly into jealous rages, arguing endlessly. That’s when the abusive part of the relationship started to outweigh the love-bombing. I would think, ‘Why can’t I get this right? Why can’t I communicate in a way that pleases him?’”
That’s when the sex became “what you’d describe as brutal and misogynistic”.
Another former lover described him as “grooming” her, comments which take on a new light given his background, which saw him board at Dilworth School, where several men are currently on trial for taking advantage of vulnerable young boys in their care.
After Dilworth, Ross worked as a lifeguard at the Lloyd Elsmore swimming pools, part of a large network of council-owned sports and leisure centres named for the former Mayor of Manakau City, Sir Lloyd Elsmore. Amongst the other facilities are the Howick Pakūranga Cricket Club, where a prominent figure in the athletics community, Donald Parker, was warned but not charged by an unnamed police commander for predatory behaviour:
Parker was connected to the Howick athletics club before it was disbanded some years ago. He was also a well-known face on the wider athletics scene in the 1980s…Parker reportedly also attended cricket matches at Lloyd Elsmore Park in East Auckland and was once seen on a bench with his arm around a young girl. A former police commander spoke to Parker and told him what he was doing was not appropriate but the matter went no further.
This revelation about “Dr Don” came years after his death in 2007, when he was accused of sexual abuse by a former sprinter, who may well have trained at the track located within the wider Lloyd Elsmore facilities:
A woman who claims she was sexually abused by a team official while competing for Auckland as an 11-year-old sprinter in the 1980s has received an extraordinary apology from the governing body of athletics…Athletics Auckland chairman David Sim admitted he “would not be surprised if more adults came forward as a result of [today’s] story”
As it happened, the Howick Athletics Club lost its records in a fire around the same time, likely hampering any investigation of Parker’s crimes. What is known is that he volunteered for St John Ambulance from 1982 to his death 2007, of unknown causes. With further victims coming forward to describe about grooming behaviour after the initial story however, the legacy of “Dr Don” casts another shadow on the circles from which Ross saw his sudden rise in politics at the noticeably young age of 18.
Further investigations into Ross were stymied however by his involuntary institutionalisation by police at an Auckland mental health facility. With the man at the centre of the scandal now allegedly suicidal, the immediate controversy would begin to wind down. Ross, thrown out of the National Party but holding onto his electorate seat in Botany, would form his own party, Advance NZ. Ahead of the 2020 election, he formed an alliance with musician Billy Te Kahika Jr, who had attracted media attention for his outlandish claims on issues such as 5G and Covid-19. In the end, Advance NZ won less than 30,000 votes, and Ross lost his seat. Currently, he is engaged in a legal dispute with his former ally, represented by lawyer and prominent media commentator Graeme Edgeler.