Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Name suppression for Auckland actor on sex charges

The actor appeared in Auckland District Court this morning. File photo
The actor appeared in Auckland District Court this morning. File photo

An Auckland actor accused of sex offences against four women will have his name kept secret until his trial.

The man, in his 40s, appeared in Auckland District Court this morning having previously pleaded not guilty to four counts of indecent assault and two of sexual violation, carrying a potential 20-year jail term.

According to charge sheets, the incidents took place between 2010 and 2013 in Auckland.

Today Judge John Bergseng suppressed the man's name until trial as well as his exact age and ethnicity.

His lawyer Ron Mansfield said the trial for his client could be up to 18 months away and he needed to support himself and his family in the meantime.

If he was named, he would be shunned by the acting community, the lawyer argued.

Mr Mansfield said his client admitted consensual sexual activity with one woman who had accused him of two counts of violation.

The indecent assaults allegedly took place in the context of acting classes, he told the court.

"The complainants were informed and consented to that sort of physical contact within the confines of the acting class," Mr Mansfield said.

He stressed his client did not seek or deserve suppression for being famous.

"We're not concerned about the fairness of trial or the impact on his reputation," he said.

"The presumption of innocence is very important."

He said people in other high-profile professions were regularly stood down on full pay when facing such allegations but that was not the case in this matter.

"While he has some infamy in New Zealand, if the allegations are published at this point it will have an immediate impact on his ability to get work. Even if he is found not guilty, it would have a permanent impact on him," Mr Mansfield said. "That does equate to extreme hardship."

But Crown prosecutor Kirsten Lummis disagreed.

She said the defendant's wife was working fulltime, which meant the family were not totally reliant on the actor's income.

That was disputed by the defence.

Ms Lummis also said there was not ample evidence of that income for Judge Bergseng to order name suppression on those grounds.

While the Crown accepted the actor would suffer from being named, it did not mean the end of his career.

"There may be short-term hardship but there have been comebacks made by [well-known people named in court proceedings]," Ms Lummis said.

The court also heard the police had spoken to another "prominent actor" who offered "hearsay evidence" about the defendant.

However, Mr Mansfield said that person was related to one of the complainants and should be disregarded.

He also rubbished comparisons by the prosecution to the case of director Roman Polanski who was also accused of sex crimes.

Mr Mansfield said Polanski was well established at the time and the criminal proceedings had little impact on his career.

As well as suppressing the defendant's name, Judge Bergseng made a permanent suppression order in respect of a person connected to the case the name of his business.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Sep 2016 02:49:17 Processing Time: 653ms