A well-known figure in the New Zealand entertainment industry is on trial this week defending charges of sexually assaulting three of his female employees at end-of-project parties.
It has been revealed that he said to one woman “if you look after me I will look after you” as he rubbed her leg.
And while alone in a hotel lift with another said “I want to see your room” and then when she tried to change the subject, he asked “are you scared”.
The man has pleaded not guilty to six charges – one of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and five of indecent assault.
His trial began in the Auckland District Court on Monday morning before Judge Russell Collins and a jury of eight women and four men.
He currently has name suppression – which prohibits the Herald from publishing the specifics of his work in the entertainment 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.
Crown prosecutor Hannah Clark outlined the allegations against the man in her opening address.
The alleged offending happened between 2007 and 2014 at various locations within New Zealand.
Clark outlined the man’s role in the industry for the jury and listed a number of high-profile projects he has been part of.
She said his sector of the industry was very specific and if anyone wanted to get involved in that the accused was”essentially who you have to work for”.
“All are younger than him, all three of them were sexually assaulted by him while working for him,” Clark explained.
“All three times it was when everyone had been drinking … at a celebratory function towards the end of filming.”
Clark said the first woman was asleep on a couch after attending a party with the accused and other colleagues.
She told police she awoke to find her jeans undone and the man touching her genitals.
The jury heard that the woman made eye contact with the accused, who then got on his hands and knees and crawled back to the bedroom he was staying in.
The woman was shocked and told other people what had happened but did not go to police immediately.
One person she told was her then-partner who confronted the man.
His response was that he had been drunk and could not remember what had happened.
The woman only decided to make a statement after she heard two other women had come forward.
Clark said the decision not to report the alleged incident at the time had weighed heavily on her.
“She wanted to move past this … she wanted to put all this behind her,” she said.
“But at the end of 2017 she learns that these two other women have come forward.
“She didn’t know what to do, she thought about it for months … but finally she decided to go to the police.”
The second woman was “rubbed up and down” on her thigh by the accused at another party.
Clark told the jury that as he touched her, he said to her: “You look after me and I’ll look after you.”
Her husband was at the same party and saw the interaction.
When he came over to intervene the woman begged him “please don’t say anything I don’t want to lose my job”.
The couple left, and actually drove the accused home.
The woman was desperate to keep her job and kept working for the accused after the alleged assault.
“She felt like a minder trying to make sure other people weren’t in the same situation she was in,” said Clark.
“Then he did it to someone else, and he did it in front of her.”
That woman is the third complainant.
After finishing work for the day she headed back to her hotel.
The rest of her team were meeting in a room at the hotel for drinks but she did not want to go.
When she got to the hotel she got into the lift and the accused also stepped in.
“I want to see you room,” he allegedly told her.
“She tried to deflect, saying she wanted to go and see everyone else,” said Clark.
“He asked her ‘are you scared?'”
When they got to the room with their colleagues the man allegedly groped her several times.
After he groped her the first time she moved away but he followed her and repeated the assault.
“She left the room,” Clark said.
“But the defendant didn’t leave at that, he wanted to get to her.”
Clark said he asked people which room the woman was staying in but no one would tell him.
He then called and texted her repeatedly.
“He found her hotel room that night and turned up banging on her door,” Clark said.
“She eventually decided to open the door to him, he said he just wanted to talk.”
The accused allegedly claimed he was having problems with his wife.
“(The third complainant) told him in explicit terms to go away.”
He reportedly apologised to her some days later.
Several years later she found herself working on a new project that the accused was
She was set to go overseas for that work but Clark said once the man found out she was in a relationship with another employee, he told her “you are no longer required”.
Clark said the would hear from all three women, and a number of other people who either
saw the alleged incidents or heard about them soon after.
“You can believe what these three women say is the truth,” she said.
The man’s lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, QC, said it was accepted he employed the women and had been at parties with them.
“You are simply being asked did these events happen? If they did was it the defendant who committed them?”