TV comic guilty of sex act on child still working

16:00, Mar 23 2011

The television star who performed a drunken sex act on a four-year-old continues to be employed by at least two big New Zealand companies.

The comedian, whose name is suppressed to protect his victim's identity, entered a surprise guilty plea in Auckland District Court yesterday.

He admitted performing an indecent act on a child, after originally being charged with the more serious offence of unlawful sexual connection with a person aged under 12.

The incident happened at the man's home after a 2009 television network Christmas party in central Auckland. The man's partner was present during the incident, which has been blamed on alcohol.

The Dominion Post has learnt that, after being charged – which resulted in him being forced out of the TV channel for which he was working – he was hired by two other employers, whom he did not tell of the charge he was facing.

Ian Hughes, director of Auckland-based voice talent company Bigmouth Voices, said he had no obligation to tell his two clients about the celebrity's plight.

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"He had a right to earn a living and was innocent until proven guilty. I couldn't tell [my clients] about his charge, it was all sub judice."

If the case had gone to trial, the man's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, intended to tell a jury her client was so intoxicated that he was not aware his victim was a child.

But just before the trial was to get under way, his lawyers negotiated a plea bargainand the sex charge was reduced. The guilty plea was exchanged for a promise from Crown lawyers a non-custodial sentence would be sought.

The man struggled to say the word "guilty" when asked how he wanted to plead. Judge Phillipa Cunningham freed him on bail for sentencing on May 26, and said it was likely he would be granted permanent name suppression to protect the child's identity.

The Dominion Post