Wellington real estate agent in 'no condom' case loses secrecy bid

Wellington real estate agent Andrew Houpt says the condom case has ruined his life.
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Wellington real estate agent Andrew Houpt says the condom case has ruined his life.

A Wellington real estate agent who escaped conviction for not using a condom with a prostitute has failed in his attempt to keep his name secret.

Andrew David Houpt, 28, a former Lower Hutt real estate agent, lost his bid for permanent name suppression in a High Court decision released on Monday.

Houpt had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of not taking all reasonable steps to ensure a condom was used while receiving commercial sexual services.

He was discharged without conviction in Wellington District Court on September 1.

His lawyer Mike Antunovic argued that while having sex with a prostitute was legal, there would be "significant stigma" for Houpt if he was named.

But Justice Denis Clifford ruled that Houpt would experience embarrassment, not extreme hardship, as a result of losing name suppression.

In October last year, Houpt hosted an all-night party at his hotel room in central Wellington.

In the early morning, he arranged for a prostitute to come to his room, where they had unprotected sex.

The judgement said there seemed to be some discussion and agreement between Houpt and the prostitute not to use condoms. However the practice is illegal.

"I am not persuaded that there would be such an impact on Mr Houpt's prospects of employment as a real estate agent as to give rise to extreme hardship," he said.

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Hearing the judgment, Houpt, who is on holiday overseas, said he felt "absolutely gutted".

"The whole situation has been going on for a year, I had to go to the doctor to take anti-anxiety medicine, and for it all to come to a head like this, it's been absolutely devastating for me," he said.

Houpt said he was easily recognisable due to there being only ten people in the country with his surname. 

"My last name's not Jones... I feel this has destroyed my whole life, I feel like I can longer come back to New Zealand and hold my head high."

As a result of the case, Houpt had resigned from his job as a Lower Hutt real estate agent.

He said he loved his job, and had won multiple awards for his work, but he did not know who would want to employ him anymore.

The night he saw the prostitute was the first time he had been with an escort, he said.

Houpt said he wished he knew he had to wear a condom, or that the prostitute had told him about the law at the time.

He was supposed to return to New Zealand next week, but was now grappling with the shame of what to tell his family.

"I would have much rather have been fined. It's a fineable only offence – I don't care about that, it's not about myself, it's about my family, and my girlfriend, and my girlfriend's family."

He said he felt the punishment of being named outweighed the crime.

"Such a terrible social stigma has come with it," he said.

The little known charge carries a maximum penalty of a $2000 fine.

 - Stuff

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