'It's quite upsetting' - Entertainment industry veteran on sex charges speaks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 4:13PM
The accused was granted interim name suppression so the Herald cannot identify him, or the specifics of his work in the industry. (Photo / 123RF)
The accused was granted interim name suppression so the Herald cannot identify him, or the specifics of his work in the industry. (Photo / 123RF)

'It's quite upsetting' - Entertainment industry veteran on sex charges speaks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 4:13PM

A jury in the trial of an entertainment industry veteran charged with sex offending against three female employees has heard from the man himself.

This afternoon the jury was played a video of the man - who cannot be identified - being interviewed by police after his arrest last year.

The man was charged after three women - all former employees - went to police and made allegations of sexual offending against him.

The man is currently on trial in the Auckland District Court facing a charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and five of indecent assault.

An interim suppression order prevents the Herald from publishing the man's name or specific details of the work he does in the industry.

However‌, ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌reported‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌involved‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌number‌ ‌of‌ ‌high-profile‌ ‌film‌ ‌and‌ ‌television‌ ‌projects‌ ‌in‌ ‌New‌ ‌Zealand‌ ‌and‌ ‌around‌ ‌the‌ ‌world,‌ ‌including‌ ‌working‌ ‌with‌ ‌Disney‌ ‌and‌ ‌Netflix‌ ‌-‌ ‌and‌ ‌some‌ ‌significant‌ ‌retail‌ ‌brands.‌ ‌

Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg QC said the man "absolutely denies" any offending.

She said the complainants were "unreliable or mistaken, or certainly being untruthful".

Detective Sarah Cato this afternoon told the court that she arrested the man at his home last year and took him to the Henderson police station for a formal interview.

When they arrived there she questioned the man, who had been joined by a barrister.

During the interview Cato put the allegations of the first complainant.

She gave evidence on Monday, alleging that she woke on the couch of the man's motel room after a wrap party to find him with his hand down her pants touching her genitals.

"Well number one, that's not at all true," he said.

"She had some concerns that something happened when she worked for me and I talked to her on the phone about it.

"That's quite different to the conversation she had with me … I remember being quite concerned about it because she worked for me.

"(The first complainant) and her partner were working for me on a job … to cut a long story short … A week prior to finishing the job we had a wrap party.

"We all were a pretty happy unit … we basically were drinking … I only know what I did that evening … had some beer, had a good time."

He said about 1am he went home.

He did not lock the door as he thought the man sharing his motel unit was coming back later.

He said he went to bed in his room on his own.

The next morning he woke up thinking "everything was normal".

Three of his employees were in the lounge - drinking wine, he claimed - and he said it was the first he knew of them staying in the motel.

He said nothing seemed amiss.

A few days later he was organising a dinner for his immediate team.

He called the first complainant to see if she was coming and she said no, she had left the project and was driving home.

"It's to do with what happened last weekend," she told the man.

"I was a bit shocked, like, what are you talking about," the man told police in the video.

"She said 'what happened in your motel'.

"She said that basically - and I remember it quite clearly because it's something to be taken seriously - she said that somebody during the night … she woke up and someone was pulling at her jeans."

The man said to the complainant "wow that's not good - did you see who it was?"

"She said 'no' - she said 'was it you?'"

The man said he was taken aback and told her it was not him.

He asked if the woman had been touched "in a sexual way" and she said no.

"I felt quite sick … it's quite upsetting, I'm quite respectful of (her) and all my workers," he told police.

He asked the man who was sharing the unit with him if he knew anything.

That man, who gave evidence earlier this week, said "don't worry it could have been anyone".

Later in the police interview the accused said the man said "don't worry bro it could have been me".

"I felt pretty disturbed at the time," the man said.

"Obviously something happened, but she wasn't accusing me."

The jury are continuing to watch the video interview.

Yesterday they heard from the second complainant.

She says he rubbed her upper thigh at a similar party and told her "if you look after me, I'll look after you".

She was also present when the third alleged assault happened.

In that case her colleague claimed the man had groped her repeatedly in a hotel room where they and others had gathered.

When she left the room to get away from him, she said he followed her and tried for some time to get into her hotel room.

The second complainant gave evidence today.