Victim angry that sex abuser's name kept secret

TRACEY CHATTERTON AND SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 08:38 15/07/2014

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A High Court judge has allowed a child-sex offender to keep his name a secret, against the wishes of the solicitor-general and of one of his victims.

Erena Chadwick waived her right to name suppression in an effort to have her abuser named in public. But in April the District Court turned down her request to identify him, after which the solicitor-general appealed to the High Court.

Now Justice Raynor Asher has also declined to lift name suppression, saying identifying the man would cause him "extreme hardship".

The Hawke's Bay man, a former lawyer, pleaded guilty last year to assaulting and indecently assaulting Chadwick, and assaulting a second child, between 1984 and 1990.

Shortly after the offending, he underwent counselling.

He thought he should report himself to police, but took the advice of a counsellor, who said it would not be a constructive step.

In his decision, the judge noted extreme hardship was a "very high threshold to cross" and required circumstances beyond those ordinarily applied to a historic sex offender.

There was no doubt the man would lose his job and possibly his partner if his name was published, but those factors alone did not meet the threshold.

However, the judge said that, since the man had worked so hard to forge a new life since his offending, it would be a "very extreme punishment" to publish his name and destroy his life, considering he had acted on a counsellor's advice not to go to police.

Chadwick said she believed the man "did what he had to do" after the offending.

"It's all about him. He doesn't care about me and how my life has been because of what he did.

"It wasn't because he felt bad about what he'd done to me and wanted to deal with it.

"I can't be angry about it forever, but I am disappointed and it does piss me off."

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money described the High Court decision as shameful and said that, if a victim wanted suppression lifted, it should be granted.

The lobby group, which recently launched a campaign called Stop The Suppression, believed the laws were far too restrictive.

"I don't care if he's a lawyer . . . or if he's an offender in prison - if the victim wants him named, he should be named. It's that cut and dry."

However, Rethinking Crime and Punishment spokesman Kim Workman said he did not generally support publishing offenders' names.

"My personal view is you need to look at every case on its merits, and I think the [judge] has done this. There's a balancing act that has to apply, and I guess the outcome you want is to do the least amount of harm as you can."

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A spokeswoman for Crown Law said no comment could be made on the case, or on why the appeal was taken.

FROM THE JUDGEMENT BY JUSTICE RAYNOR ASHER

"I note the first victim's view that she has waived the protection of her name ... it deserves considerable weight given the victim's suffering. However, it is not determinative of the outcome.

"It will always be the case that, where the offending has been historic and there has been no offeding since, there is an increase in hardship, but this alone is insufficient to warrant more suppression.

"Nevertheless, I propose to dismiss the appeal and upholding [sic] the District Court decision. This is because there is an nusual factor in this case which adds further to the hardship and makes it extreme.

"It is that shortly after the offending, [the man's] wrongdoing was discovered or revealed, and [he] had to face his victims and the fact of the offending back then in the early 1990s. The possibility of there being complaints to the police arose in the course of the meetings. [The man] went through counselling and the counsellor recommended against complaints being made to the police.

"Thus, unlike many historic sex cases where the offender has not recognised the offending for many years, this offending was in fact revealed after it occurred, and the defendant accepted it and the consequences of what he had done... short of him inviting the police to prosecute him, contrary to the advice of the counsellor, there was nothing more he could have done to atone for the offending.

"As an unskilled person he proceeded to put himself through law school, obtain a law degree and forge a career for himself in the profession. In those circumstances it would be a very extreme punishment to public his name and destroy the life that he has created for himself since his acceptance of wrongdoing."

- The Dominion Post

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