They were accused of being vengeful liars, money-hungry extortionists and fantasists.
But they are three men, unknown to each other, who together saw a wealthy, corrupt and convicted businessman sentenced today to more than two years behind bars.
“The power balance has shifted, the three of us have told the truth … and in doing so we’ve taken some of the power that this person took from us,” one of the men told the High Court at Auckland.
The prominent Kiwi, who continues to maintain interim name suppression for suppressed reasons, was found guilty of indecently assaulting all three victims at his Auckland home in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.
“[The businessman] said in court that he did not remember meeting me, I, however, have never forgotten what happened that night and have relived it dozens of times,” the man attacked in the early 2000s said to a packed courtroom.
They also know now the businessman will see the inside of a prison cell for the first time after first being charged in February 2017. He was denied bail pending an appeal of his convictions and sentence of two years and four months.
“Your inability to accept your offending is made plain in your discussion with a probation officer, you consider yourself to be a victim of the tall poppy syndrome,” Justice Geoffrey Venning told the businessman today.
“Your sense of self-entitlement is repeated in the affidavit you provided for sentencing, it displays a lack of empathy for your victims and confirms your lack of insight into your offending.”
The businessman’s lack of remorse “infuriates” the 2008 victim.
He said despite the convictions, some people have also told him “these indiscretions can be overlooked” because of the businessman’s significant philanthropy. The businessman’s lawyer David Jones QC said his client has made an “unparalleled contribution” to New Zealand.
But the victim from the early 2000s said he expected the businessman to rely on his philanthropy in a final attempt “to wipe away the guilty verdict”.
Earlier this month, the influential man emailed more than 100 people and organisations asking for letters of support to present to the judge.
“I would greatly appreciate such support … I am innocent of all charges,” he wrote.
“I would doubt I would survive any period in prison. In these circumstances innocent people can and do rot in jail only to be cleared some time later. Such is the law.”
The early 2000s victim said after suppressing the assault for years he eventually wrote down the details as MeToo gained momentum and some of the world’s most influential people were being held to account for past offences.
“With the MeToo movement I was confronted with those memories almost every day,” he said.
“We’ve called the current movement MeToo which implies there is a we … But when you’re picked apart in court and called a liar, a fantasist … It is the loneliest thing in the world, there is no too here, only me.”
The businessman ran a ruthless defence during the trial as he strenuously denied the charges and attempted to smear his complainants as liars. He told police he was the victim, the target of an “amazing blackmailing circuit”.
Unlike the businessman, however, the victims were not after and did not believe money was the solution.
“[The businessman’s] lawyer implied there was some lucrative money train being the victim, when in fact it is exactly the opposite,” the 2000s complainant said.
The 2008 victim said after being assaulted he simply wanted to bury what happened but later realised he wasn’t capable of dealing with what happened.
However, the memory of the incident would resurface every time he saw the businessman at an event.
“I would leave immediately if I saw him,” he said.
When he learned the businessman had been charged over the 2016 assault he decided it was time to come forward and make a statement to police.
“I’ve been accused of being arrogant, angry, vengeful and weird,” he said. “All I am in this case is a victim of [the businessman] who is holding him to account.”
The 2008 victim was part of two trials for the businessman, the first aborted in 2018 after the emergence of a secret recording, but until being part of the court process he didn’t know what a victim really meant.
Having someone attack and attempt to shred his integrity, he said, was harrowing, insulting and demeaning.
The 2000s victim came forward shortly after the first trial was halted.
The businessman was also convicted – alongside his manager and entertainer Mika X – of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim, the first to go to police, to drop their claims.
The second attempt in May 2017 included hiring PR consultant Jevan Goulter to help make the case disappear and later become known as the “Gold Coast plot”.
Today, Crown prosecutor Simon Foote QC said the 2016 victim’s career dreams were effectively ended as the court case dragged on. The victim, who now lives in Australia, was not in court for today’s sentencing.
“How incredibly grateful I am the jury believed me and the other victims,” the 2008 complainant said.
The 2000s victim said: “I do not forgive you, I only hope one day time will allow me to forget you.”
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