Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Indecent act man challenges victim's bid to be named

Woman feeling revictimised as attacker tries to stop her going public

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The victim of an indecent act is outraged her attacker gets a say in whether she can reveal her identity.

The woman is making a legal bid to lift her name suppression to tell her story without fear of breaking the law.

But the man who attacked her has a legal right to challenge her bid and a hearing date has been set.

The woman has told supporters she is traumatised and feels she is being revictimised, says Ruth Money of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, who is supporting the woman and her family in trying to overturn the suppression.

"Even [the attacker] to be a party to the proceedings doesn't make any common sense let alone any legal.

"They just shouldn't have any rights over these ladies. It's ridiculous.

"There's no respect for survivors in this system whatsoever."

The battle to lift name suppression is the latest sting in a saga that has plagued the Central Otago woman for three years.

After a long court process, her attacker — a high-profile man in his 60s — pleaded guilty to an indecent act with intent to insult or offend when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court in March.

The man visited her in her home in 2011 and, despite her objections, tried to kiss her and touch her on her clothing before putting her hand on his groin.

He was given permanent name suppression.

The woman now faces a fresh court hearing to decide whether she can be identified.

Money said the law was broken and outdated.

"There's no need for name suppression unless the victim wants it.

"Sexual abuse is about power and name suppression just enables the offenders to maintain their power over their survivors."

Auckland University law lecturer Bill Hodge said name suppression was designed to protect the innocent.

"The offender gets a say ... because it is a matter that affects him and natural justice would ordinarily demand a person affected has a right to make a submission.

"But it's not a right to veto, it's simply a right to be heard before the judge makes that decision.

"I would give that submission very little weight in terms of the statutory purpose."

Lawyer Nikki Pender of Franks and Ogilvie said the man in this case should have no right to be heard.

"It should be none of his business. It's institutional revictimisation."

She said it was time the law was overhauled to enable victims to easily remove orders as many women wanted the chance to speak openly as part of the healing process.

Jonathan Eaton, the lawyer for the man in this case, did not return calls.

- Herald on Sunday

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