Content warning: This story contains graphic details of and surrounding rape and sexual assault.
The trial for a Wellington man in the music scene accused of eight sexual offences against six complainants has begun.
The first of six complainants gave evidence today.
It was her birthday party. At the end of the night, it was too late for public transport, so she said a few people could crash on the couch, and her mum made up some beds in the living room.
She fell asleep in her own bedroom. Sometime later, she says, the man got up from the couch, walked into her bedroom, removed her pyjamas and pushed his penis inside her.
She woke up as he began penetrating her, she alleges. “I couldn't say anything, I couldn't talk, I couldn't say stop or anything because I froze. There was someone in my bed and I didn't know who it was.”
He allegedly pushed her face into the pillow and choked her, and continued intercourse until he ejaculated, rolled off and went to sleep.
She didn’t sleep. It was nearly early morning, and she went into her mum’s bedroom and sat, waiting on the end of the bed until her mum woke up. She had a job interview in the morning, and needed her mum to drive her there.
The trial at the District Court in Wellington is expected to last seven days
The defendant faces four charges of sexual violation by rape, two charges of unlawful sexual violation, and two charges of indecent assault which allegedly took place in Wellington between 2017 and 2020.
The 25 year old, who has interim name suppression - which means he cannot be publicly named - until the end of the trial, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Crown alleges the offending took place against young women who were either asleep or affected by alcohol, and that the defendant initiated and continued sexual activity when the women were not in a position to consent.
Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham said “he was well aware of that but continued”.
The defence argues that for the four rape charges, the defendant accepts that sexual activity occurred but it was his belief and understanding at the time that all of them were consenting to sexual activity.
And for the two indecent assault charges and the two unlawful sexual connection charges, he denies anything happened at all.
“He will tell you that nothing occurred between himself and those two complainants at all, that if anything happened to them, then it wasn't he who carried out those actions,” defence counsel Val Nisbet said.
There are 19 witnesses, including the six complainants.
Consent is at the heart of the case
Both the prosecution and defence agree the case is about consent and belief of consent.
Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham, in her opening remarks to the jury, said a person does not consent to sexual activity if:
- They are asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or some other drug that they cannot consent; or
- They are submitting to force or threat of force; or
- If they allow it because they are confused about who the person is
It will be the Crown’s argument that all of the young women were either asleep, too drunk to consent or confused about who the person was.
Defence counsel Val Nisbet said the trial will give “a bird’s eye view” on the lives of young people, most importantly their party life.
“They all get together, they all party up, they drink, sometimes too much, they might ingest drugs, sometimes too much.”
“But it's a life that all the participants make a choice to participate in. People aren't forced to go to these parties, they aren't forced to drink, it's something they choose to do.”
“Sometimes they may regret those choices.”
He urged the jury to have an open mind.
“Just because the defendant is arrested and charged with these charges doesn’t mean he’s guilty.”
What the allegations are
Complainant one: sexual violation by rape
The Crown alleges that after a party, a young woman told a few people they could come back and sleep on the couch at her house because it was too late for public transport.
She went to bed in her bedroom, and the defendant went to sleep on a couch in the living room.
The defendant sometime later went into her room where she was still asleep. The Crown alleges she woke up as he removed her pyjamas, sexually violated her and pushed her face into the pillow and choked her, leaving her with bruises on her neck. Once the sexual encounter had finished he rolled off and went to sleep.
Complainant two: sexual violation by rape
The Crown alleges that at a flat party, the defendant began messaging a young woman from across the room asking if she was going to stay the night.
She was tired and drunk and replied that she would stay as long as he didn't think anything was going to happen.
He showed her into one of the bedrooms in the flat, where there was already a man asleep in the bed. She got into bed and so did the defendant.
The Crown alleges that 20 mins later as she was falling asleep, he pushed her underwear to the side and penetrated her.
She asked him what he was doing and he allegedly told her to shush, flipped her over and penetrated again.
She contemplated waking up the man next to her but wondered if it would make things worse.
As soon as he finished he rolled over and fell asleep, and she got out of bed.
Complainant three: sexual violation by rape
A young woman says after drinks at a flat, she changed into pyjamas, got into bed and fell asleep.
The Crown alleges the defendant went into the bedroom, got into bed with her, removed her pyjamas and penetrated her.
The Crown says she woke up to find him lying on top of her, having sexual intercourse, holding both of her wrists down with her arms above her head.
Complainant four: sexual violation by rape and unlawful sexual connection
A young woman says after a night in town, she returned to her flat where the defendant was asleep on the couch at the time.
She and the man she was dating at the time went into her bedroom. She fell asleep, but says the man she was dating was still awake when the defendant came into the bedroom and began touching her.
The other man got out of bed and left the room. The defendant then allegedly penetrated her from behind, which caused her to wake up. She initially believed it was the man she was dating, but when she realised it was the defendant having sex with her, she pushed herself off and tried to go back to sleep.
The Crown alleges she was woken again, this time with his head between her legs, and she pushed him away, grabbed some clothes and left the bedroom.
Complainant five and six: indecent assault (for one complainant), indecent assault and unlawful sexual connection
After a night of partying, two young women went back to the flat of one of their boyfriends, where the defendant was present.
The young women went to bed, and were later joined by the boyfriend. They were falling asleep when the defendant entered the bedroom and got into bed next to one of the women, saying he needed somewhere to sleep.
The Crown alleges he grabbed her breast. When she pushed him away and told him to stop, he allegedly responded by grabbing her breast and touching her stomach and back.
She says she told him if he touched her again she would scream until someone came. He stopped touching her, but he began reaching over her and touching the other woman. She was asleep but woke up to him squeezing her bottom and touching her back.
He finally stopped when her boyfriend woke up and told him to stop or to leave the flat. He denied having done anything and said he was just going to go to sleep.
They all went to sleep again, and then the first young woman says he put his hand down her pants and penetrated her. When she woke up to him doing this, she pushed him off.
Top Image: The District Court in Wellington. Photo: Anna Harcourt/Re:
Correction (21/10/2022, 12.55pm): Re: News has clarified details around the two unlawful sexual connections charges. The line has been updated to say: "And for the two indecent assault charges and the two unlawful sexual connection charges, he denies anything happened at all." Re: News has also clarified the subheadings that are part of the 'What the allegations are' section.
Where to get help:
- 24 hour nationwide helpline Safe2Talk: 0800 044 334
- 24/7 helpline Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP: 04 801 6655
- RapeCrisis directory to services across the country: https://toah-nnest.org.nz/get-help/survivors/rape-crisis
- (Not for crisis support): For education programs around preventing sexual violence: RespectEd
- Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Aotearoa: www.malesurvivor.nz
- To report your experience to the police, call 111 or the non-emergency line 105