A leading figure in the New Zealand entertainment industry is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
A Crown prosecutor claims the suggestion the case against a leading entertainment figure accused of sexual offending is “some sort of MeToo fest” was designed to mock, humiliate or undermine the women who gave evidence.
In her closing statements in the High Court at Rotorua today, Anna Pollett said the evidence showed a clear “pattern of behaviour” by the defendant that crossed from immoral to illegal.
The defendant, who has interim name suppression, has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault, four of sexual violation by rape, three of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, two of attempted sexual violation, two of burglary, one of assault with intent to commit sexual violation, one of supplying MDMA, one of supplying methamphetamine and one of willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The charges relate to nine women over a nine-year period. The trial began 11 weeks ago before a jury of nine women and three men.
Pollett told the jury the case was not about “wild, addictive sex during an affair”.
“We are not talking about consensual sexual experiences and we are not talking about sex outside marriage, nor are we talking about one-night stands,” Pollett said.
“What this case is about are these occasions amidst perhaps clearly immoral conduct where that has clearly crossed into illegal conduct.”
Pollett said the evidence presented to the jury over the last 11 weeks showed “very clear patterns”.
“I’m talking about the youth of [four of the complainants]. The second pattern that emerges is the defendant’s persistence and in some cases getting angry or using intimidation.”
Pollett said the complainants’ evidence involved being in private or enclosed spaces such as hotel rooms, cars and bedrooms, as well as intoxication, drugs, being asleep and the defendant’s “unwanted” presence.
“The defendant has told you that all these women have just been brought together to bolster the case against him.
“The Crown’s case is that this does illustrate a pattern of behaviour.”
Pollett said the defendant’s habits were known as far back as 2010 but were “deemed excusable”.
“What unfolded was years of sexual offending of varying degrees against nine complainants. They all stood alone and said nothing until [one person] spoke up.”
Pollett said some of the defendant’s alleged victims did not come forward sooner because they blamed themselves or “were affected by the power imbalance”.
“They think they will just forget and move on without considering the conduct may continue with others.”
Pollett said the nine women who had given evidence in the trial did not “embellish” their evidence.
“They weren’t coming forward and overcooking it. They weren’t saying things happened that were far more serious than what occurred. They all frankly admitted when they made errors. They were not evasive or unreasonably combative.
“To suggest that this has been some MeToo fest is distasteful and is designed to mock, humiliate or undermine the women who have come to this courtroom and given evidence.”
The defence has previously said the case was a “MeToo fest”.
Pollett said only one complainant in the trial was in a long-term relationship and affair with the defendant.
“She may still be suffering under the influence of a lot of hurt and upset about the defendant. She clearly had a terrible experience. Both the defendant and the complainant had been affected by the affair and how it turned out in the end.”
Pollett said the main argument for the defence was that the complainants were not telling the truth.
“The defence’s theory that all these women are connected in some way to bring the defendant down by a raft of individuals who have some sort of vendetta does not stack up.”
Pollett said there was a lack of evidence of collusion between the complainants and that the defendant’s evidence could be set aside.
“The defendant was giving evidence based on what he wanted you to look at rather than what actually occurred,” Pollett said.
“Credibility is how believable someone is. Reliability is how accurate someone is. It is not a contest of who you believe the most.
“You can be absolutely sure that the Crown has proved its case to the required standard of beyond reasonable doubt.”
Some details of the case and names of people involved cannot be reported because the defendant has interim name suppression until at least the end of the trial.
The trial was originally set down for six weeks but will enter its 12th week before Justice Layne Harvey next week.
Pollett will continue her closing statements on Monday. Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield KC is expected to close the defence’s case on Tuesday.
Maryana Garcia is a regional reporter writing for the Rotorua Daily Post and the Bay of Plenty Times. She covers local issues, health and crime.