Premier Auckland rugby player found not guilty of rape

Junior Sefo, 24, was found not guilty by majority verdict in the Auckland District Court today. Photo / Phil Walter/Getty Images
Junior Sefo, 24, was found not guilty by majority verdict in the Auckland District Court today. Photo / Phil Walter/Getty Images

A premier Auckland rugby player has been found not guilty of raping a woman as she slept in an Auckland sports club.

Junior Sefo, 24, was found not guilty by majority verdict in the Auckland District Court today, more than a year after the April 19 incident at College Rifles Rugby Football Club in Remuera.

He said the pair had consensual sex but pleaded not guilty to the charge of rape.

Sefo was visibly emotional after the verdict was read, hugging family and friends and praying outside the courtroom.

The jury of nine men and three women retired to consider their verdict around 3pm yesterday and returned the majority verdict today at 12:40pm after being unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

During the trial, Sefo told the court he had been drinking at the clubrooms on the evening of April 18 last year at the same time as the alleged victim.

The pair had not spoken.

About 10.30pm he went to another part of the club to continue drinking with teammates. The alleged victim went to a room to sleep.

Sefo said he went to get something from the room where she was sleeping, and saw her awake. He identified himself to her, before the woman performed oral sex on him. The pair then had consensual sex, he said.

He said the woman called him a different name, so he stopped and turned the light on.
Afterwards, he said they continued to have sex before she asked him to stop and leave.
Under cross examination by crown prosecutor Nick Webby, Sefo admitted to lying to police when he was first questioned.

He told the court he had not interacted with the alleged victim at all before April 18 and 19.

Defence lawyer Malcolm English said Sefo voluntarily gave police a DNA sample. He said both Sefo and the woman had been drunk.

The victim, whose named is suppressed, claimed she was "jolted" awake later in the night by Sefo having sex with her. He was on top of her and she became hysterical and tried to push him off.

Seconds later he stopped and left the room.

The woman called another player she knew for help and, after speaking briefly with her about what had happened, went and got Sefo. She challenged Sefo as to what he had done and told him to leave.

However, she claims, when she went back to the room where she had been sleeping, Sefo was there and naked from the waist down, urging her to go to bed with him.

Crown prosecutor Nick Webby said the woman could not have consented if she was asleep and it was clearly rape.

"He crept into [the room] - uninvited and unwanted - where she was asleep and affected by alcohol," he said.

"She woke up to find this man having sex with her, on top of her, raping her."
Mr Webby said that when interviewed by police Sefo initially said he never went to the room and he "certainly did not" have any sexual contact with the woman.

But after he was told that a semen sample taken from the room was more likely to be his than anyone else's, he approached police and said he "wanted to tell the truth about what happened that night".

It was then he told police the woman had initiated oral sex and then intercourse.
The victim took the stand briefly on Monday and the jury was played a video of police interviewing her after the alleged rape, during which she describes being woken "because I could feel someone there". "I remember saying 'what the f*** are you doing to me?'"

- NZ Herald

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