A successful businessman has been sentenced to supervision for his indecent assault on a young worker whose life was said to be “shattered” following his offending against her.
The man was refused permanent name suppression and his application for a discharge without conviction was also rejected after he argued he wouldn’t be able to go on holiday if he had a conviction.
His lawyer appealed the name suppression refusal, which means his name must be kept secret until the appeal is heard.
At the 71-year-old’s sentencing at the Auckland District Court on Monday, Judge Evangelos Thomas said the man hadn’t met the requirements for a discharge without conviction.
The man, accompanied in court by his wife, had argued through his lawyer that he liked to travel on cruises overseas and that a conviction could mean the refusal of essential visas.
He also said he would be “embarrassed” if his name was published in connection with the proceedings, and that his business would lose customers, but Judge Thomas said that wasn’t an unusual consequence of criminal proceedings.
In March last year the man had employed a young woman to work for him and on one particular day he insisted on picking her up from her home.
On the ensuing car journey he had touched the woman, then aged 21, on her leg – advances which were “clearly rebuffed”, Judge Thomas said.
“You were not going to take no for an answer.”
The man grabbed the woman’s breasts on the outside of her clothing and following her “strong” reaction, the man blamed his actions on the medication he was taking for Parkinsons’ disease.
“Again, you did not take no for an answer. You asked if you could hold her hand. Out of fear, she let you,” Judge Thomas said.
“She had no answers for the situation that she found herself in. You thanked her at the end of the ride and apologised to her again afterward.”
The victim had been “severely” affected by the offending, and was so traumatised she left the part of Auckland she was living in the very next day.
She estimated she had lost more than $6000 in her rental bond, lost wages, doctor’s bills, and having to travel and find a new job and housing.
“I have suffered many sleepless nights and for the first time in my life I have suffered from anxiety,” the woman said in a victim impact statement.
She was supported in court by her parents and a victim’s adviser, who read her statement.
The victim said she had only returned to the area where the offending occurred a few times since the offending, and felt anxious and on edge in case she bumped into the man.
She had been forced to leave behind her friends, family and other support networks, in a bid to avoid him, she said.
Refusing the discharge without conviction Judge Thomas said there was no evidence that the man’s medications had affected his judgment.
He had been managing his disease for 23 years.
“You abused the enormous trust and authority you had over her. You took advantage of someone who was in a very vulnerable position and the effects of what you did have been significant,” Judge Thomas said.
“There are other elements though that I can give some significant weight to (in sentencing). You’re a person of good character otherwise, you pleaded guilty at an early opportunity, and you have always acknowledged what you have done.
“You apologised on the night and since then have been genuinely remorseful. I consider that all of that reduces the gravity to moderate.”
On the one charge of indecent assault the man was sentenced to 12 months supervision and ordered to undergo any recommended treatment.
He was also ordered to pay the woman $7000 in reparations, although he had told the court he had suffered a significant financial loss because of the court proceedings.
He had lost money on uninsured overseas travel he had planned, which had to be abandoned because of the charge.
The man had to be slowly escorted from the dock after the sentencing, with his lawyer earlier telling the judge that he might faint.
The victim indicated to the court she wanted to waive her statutory right to name suppression, but Judge Thomas encouraged her to think it over for a few days.