A musician who admitted to owning and sharing graphic images of child sexual abuse worked as a sound engineer on children’s television shows. Things has found.
Phillip Matthew Kusabs was sentenced to 12 months house arrest in North Shore District Court on May 19. He had previously admitted four charges of distributing child sexual abuse material and five representative charges of possession of similar videos and images.
His lawyers have asked the court to remove Kusab’s name from the sex offenders’ register. Judge Simon Maude has asked for written comments on the motion. Kusabs’ solicitor Marie Dyhrberg QC Things She could not comment on her client’s case.
However, coverage of the case has described Kusabs as a heavy metal musician Things has stated that he has worked as an audio engineer on children’s television shows for the past two decades.
It comes after sexual harassment and abuse in the screen industry was outed by the #MeToo movement. (Video first released June 2020).
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However, the nature of the casual work makes it difficult to trace his professional history Things was told he would not be available to work in the broader television industry until January 2022.
Court documents confirm that the charges leading to Kusab’s 2020 conviction were the first time he had appeared in court, meaning police checks carried out would not have worried potential employers.
Two production companies confirmed that they had used Kusabs on and off for a number of years to shoot children’s programs.
Kay Ellmers, Managing Director of Tūmanako Productions, narrates Things She was “deeply shocked and appalled” when she learned of Kusab’s insult.
“Between 2006 and 2012 Phil was signed by my company Tūmanako Productions on an ad hoc basis as a freelance recording engineer for a variety of projects including our Tamariki program ‘Mīharo’,” Ellmers said.
“We had strict health and safety procedures in all of our productions. The crew working with children underwent police screening and all Tamariki involved in the filming had kaitiaki (escorts) with them at all times.”
Ellmers said the company “never received anything other than positive feedback” about Kusab’s behavior or professional performance.
“It is a sobering reminder that it is impossible to detect individuals capable of this type of vile behavior and therefore underscores the importance of maintaining vigilance and robust health and safety measures at all times.”
Cinco Cine Productions CEO and Executive Producer Nicole Hoey confirmed that Kusabs was employed on shows including the long-running children’s show Pūkana in the early 2000s.
“Cino Cine follows Screen Safe Child Safety Guidelines, has escorts on set, and regularly reviews the Child Sexual Offenders Register before hiring contractors,” Hoey said in a statement.
“We encourage all productions that work with children to follow industry guidelines to protect our Tamariki.”
Screen Safe’s child safety guidelines recommend that each child be assigned a chaperone on duty “to reduce the risk of a child being left unattended” but that the chaperone-to-child ratio be no less than 1:4. Police checks for accompanying persons are also recommended.
Kusabs, 50, is best known in the death metal music world having played with a number of bands both in New Zealand and internationally.
A 2014 RNZ article credited him with founding the band Vassafor in the 1990s, which released a string of EPs and albums between 2006 and 2021. The article states that Vassafor have become one of New Zealand’s “most internationally respected extreme metal bands.”
After Kusabs appeared in court to admit to child molestation charges in February, several bands he worked with took to social media to condemn him, including Canadian band Blasphemy.
“This hired deputy has never shown us any sign of his unacceptable manner. Otherwise, this would have been dealt with swiftly and violently, as is usual in the blasphemy circle,” the band said on Facebook.
Vassafor’s record label appeared to throw the band out of its stable, posting that it had no idea of Kusab’s actions until news of his guilty plea broke.
“From now on, we will no longer endorse the individual or carry any of the band’s releases/merch,” the Iron Bonehead Productions post read. Things reached out to Vassafor for comment, but the band did not respond.
Court documents in Kusabs’ case show that he joined an online chat platform in September 2020 and shared four videos with other users. The documents included graphic descriptions of videos showing children as young as five or six being sexually abused by men.
When police searched Kusabs’ phone, they found hundreds of photos and videos of children being sexually abused.
The summary of facts states that the demand for pictures of children being sexually abused has led to further sexual abuse.
“Any sexual offense involving a child is appalling, but by photographing, filming and disseminating images and videos of the abuse, the victim is harassed every time their picture is viewed on the internet.
“The abused child carries the burden for the rest of his life.”