A prominent entertainer charged with sexually abusing a young girl after leaving a media Christmas party says he did so by accident.
The man, who has appeared on TV comedy shows, and whose name is suppressed, appeared in Auckland District Court on Tuesday to face a single charge of unlawful sexual connection against a child under 12. The alleged offending occurred earlier this month.
The Sunday Star-Times has learnt the man has engaged top criminal barrister Marie Dyhrberg and will defend the charge on the grounds he "did not know" he was performing an indecent act on the four-year-old girl.
The man has told friends he was drunk when he left the Christmas party.
After the alleged incident, a woman complained to police and the comedian was arrested the next day.
The man has been bailed to live at the home of another media personality, who told the Star-Times his friend was "scared" but "trying to keep his spirits up".
"He's trying to remain calm and confident that he will clear his name. All of his friends know he is innocent and would not be capable of this," the personality said. Another friend said that even if the comedian were to get off the charge, his career "is over".
"His career has been ruined by this, there is no doubt about it. How could he possibly come back when people know about this?
"The allegations have spread like wildfire; everybody knows who he is, even though his name is suppressed."
At this early stage of the case, it is normal for an accused on such charges to get name suppression.
Comedian Mike King said he had been inundated with text messages and telephone calls from people asking if he was the entertainer charged.
King said he knew the comedian well. "I have always thought he was a nice guy, always very friendly."
The comedian will reappear in court on January 5. His bail conditions meant he had to hand over his passport and he was not to associate with any person under the age of 16 unless he is supervised by an adult who is not a Crown witness.
A spokesman for the network on which the entertainer has appeared yesterday refused to comment on the company's response to the charge, or whether it would take any action in relation to the allegations.
The personality last night wanted to speak to the Star-Times about the alleged offending, but his lawyer advised him against it.
- Sunday Star Times