League star's alleged sex attack victim 'willing'

By David Eames

The victim of an alleged sex attack by a rugby league star had been involved in a drink and drugs binge and was a willing participant, a court was told today.

Faatea (Tea) Ropati went on trial in the Auckland District Court this morning on six charges of sexual violation including allegations of unlawful sexual connection and rape.

Ropati entered not guilty pleas to all counts when the charges were put to him this morning.

Defence counsel Gary Gotlieb told the jury the complainant had been involved in a cocaine, marijuana and drinking binge and was very much a willing participant.

He told the jury they must decide whether his client was a predator or merely a victim of circumstances.

Wide-ranging suppression orders had been in place prior to trial as Ropati is the public face of a charitable trust working with South Auckland youth.

It was previously argued publication of Ropati's name would have harmed the reputation and endangered the work of the trust.

But in a ruling released late last week which can be revealed today, Judge Phil Gittos ruled Ropati's identity be revealed following his arraignment at the start of today's trial.

"Powerful public interest considerations must now, at this stage, outweigh the factors which justified the making of this order on an interim basis at an earlier stage."

Ropati had had "ample time" to distance himself from the trust's affairs, the judge said in his ruling.

The trial is set down for eight days.

- With Newstalk ZB

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 23 Nov 2014 15:45:16 Processing Time: 607ms