A victim of a sexual offender and former Air Force sergeant is taking her case for compensation to New Zealand's second highest court. Over two days in Wellington this week, three judges will hear the case of Mariya Ann Taylor and her sexual harassment claim against the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
She is trying to overturn a High Court decision that gave her no damages for abuse she suffered as an 18-year-old Air Force recruit.
Taylor was bullied, verbally abused and sexually harassed by former air force sergeant Robert Roper - known now as "groper Roper" - between 1985 and 1988 at the Whenuapai base in Hobsonville, including being locked in a cage.
Rather than pursue a police complaint, Taylor decided to sue Roper and the Attorney-General on behalf of the Defence Force (NZDF) in a bid to receive $600,000 in compensation last year.
She argued at a hearing in March that her superior officers failed to act when informed of Roper's crimes.
But despite Justice Rebecca Edwards accepting many of Taylor's allegations, the claim for damages was dismissed.
The judge said it was prevented by the Limitation Act and by the Accident Compensation Act and ruled the statutory bar meant the court was not required to consider whether the RNZAF could have been held liable for any loss.
Taylor is seeking damages for loss of earnings, medical and other expenses, interest and legal costs.
The Court of Appeal will now review Justice Edwards' decision, and a hearing is set to begin on Tuesdaybefore Justices Christine French, Brendon Brown, and Denis Clifford.
After the High Court decision last September, the NZDF and Roper also sought court costs against Taylor, who has waived her right to permanent name suppression.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told senior NZDF officials to halt, leading to them dropping its costs claim.
Ardern said those who have read about Taylor's case know it is "devastating".
"I think Mariya has been through enough," she said.
Despite Ardern's plea, Taylor was still ordered by the High Court to pay Roper $27,819.25.
Roper has also been granted more than $75,000 in legal aid for the court case.
Barrister Graeme Little SC, who acted for Taylor alongside Geraldine Whiteford, said Roper's conduct was "outrageous, disgraceful and deplorable" and yet he had not suffered any penalty.
Roper's defence, he argued, was "unmeritorious and technical" and shouldn't have carried any order for costs.
Justice Edwards ruled: "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.
"The starting point is that Mr Roper successfully defended the claim against him, and is therefore entitled to an award of costs."
The judge reduced Roper's claim by 50 per cent to reflect him assaulting and falsely imprisoning Taylor.
A Givealittle page had also earlier been established to help Taylor with her legal fees.
Roper's crimes only came to light at the end of 2012 - 23 years after he left the military - when his daughter told police her father abused her from the age of 6.
Taylor was one of nine new complainants or witnesses who came forward after Roper was charged.
Now in his 70s, Roper was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment in 2015 after being found guilty of 20 sex charges against five women.
He continues to deny his offending but lost an appeal against his convictions and sentence in 2016.
Last year, several failures were also highlighted in an independent report about how the RNZAF handled Roper, which included the destruction of complaint and investigation files.
The report, prepared by Frances Joychild QC, made 97 recommendations to amend existing policy and to review the military justice system.