New Zealand's judicial system struggles to "grasp the impacts of trauma" for sexual abuse survivors after a woman was ordered to pay her predator nearly $28,000 in court costs, says the victim's lawyer.

Mariya Taylor was 18 when a former sergeant - now known as "groper Roper" - bullied, verbally abused, sexually harassed and locked her in a cage between 1985 and 1988 at the Whenuapai air force base in Hobsonville.

Taylor abandoned her police complaint and last year sued Robert Roper alongside the Attorney-General on behalf of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in a bid for $600,000 in compensation - arguing her superior officers failed to act when informed of the sergeant's crimes.

However, following a High Court hearing, Justice Rebecca Edwards dismissed Taylor's claim because it was barred by both the Limitation Act and by the Accident Compensation Act.

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The NZDF and Roper, who was granted more than $75,000 in legal aid, then sought court costs against her.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Defence Force to halt its court cost claims against Mariya Taylor. Cartoon / Rod Emmerson
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Defence Force to halt its court cost claims against Mariya Taylor. Cartoon / Rod Emmerson

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told senior NZDF officials to back down, leading to them dropping its costs claim last month.

But yesterday Taylor was ordered to pay Roper $27,819.25, despite Justice Edwards accepting many of her allegations.

One of Taylor's lawyers, Geraldine Whiteford, told Newstalk ZB the judge's decision sets a "really bad precedent for victims of abuse who wish to ... seek justice against their abusers".

She said her client was now re-traumatised by being forced to pay her abuser.

"She is devastated," Whiteford said.

The Government, she continued, should consider reforming the High Court costs rules to "ensure survivors of sexual abuse are not further victimised".

"It's a very bad message to give survivors ... I think the judicial system really struggles to grasp the impacts of trauma on the victims of sexual abuse."

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Taylor will now consider taking her case to the Court of Appeal, while Whiteford said it was a "valid option" for the NZDF to consider paying the costs.

A Givealittle page was earlier established to help Taylor with her legal fees.

Mariya Taylor was just an 18-year-old recruit when she became a victim of Ropert Roper. Photo / Supplied
Mariya Taylor was just an 18-year-old recruit when she became a victim of Ropert Roper. Photo / Supplied

Lawyer Graeme Little, who also acted for Taylor, argued Roper's conduct was "outrageous, disgraceful and deplorable", and yet he has not suffered any penalty for his abuse of Taylor.

He said Roper's defence was "unmeritorious and technical" and should not carry any order for costs.

Justice Edwards agreed in part.

"There can be no dispute that Mr Roper's conduct towards Ms Taylor was heinous. But Mr Little's submission confuses the proper function of an award of costs," she said.

"The starting point is that Mr Roper successfully defended the claim against him, and is therefore entitled to an award of costs."

But the judge did reduce Roper's claim by 50 per cent to reflect the findings he assaulted and falsely imprisoned Taylor.

Roper, whose total legal costs were more than $100,000, also received $75,888 in legal aid for both costs and disbursements.

Robert Roper is currently serving a 13 year term of imprisonment. Photo / File
Robert Roper is currently serving a 13 year term of imprisonment. Photo / File

Taylor was one of nine new complainants or witnesses who came forward after Roper was first charged when his crimes came to light at the end of 2012.

Now in his 70s, he was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment in 2015 after being found guilty of 20 sex charges against five women.

Last year, several NZDF failures were also highlighted in an independent report about how the Royal New Zealand Air Force handled Roper, including the destruction of complaint and investigation files.

The report, prepared by Frances Joychild QC, into historic sexual abuse allegations made 97 recommendations to amend existing policy and to review the military justice system.

Roper continues to deny his offending but lost his appeal against his convictions and sentence in 2016.