Another victim of an Air Force sergeant already convicted of several sexual crimes will receive no compensation because of the statute of limitations, a judge has ruled.

A former enlisted woman, known as M, sued the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) earlier this year for damages over its alleged failure to act against the man now known as "groper Roper".

Robert Richard Roper's offending occurred between 1976 and 1988 when he served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) at its Whenuapai base in Hobsonville.

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

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But 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.

M was one of nine new complainants or witnesses who came forward after Roper was first charged.

She abandoned her police complaint in favour of a High Court civil proceeding, seeking compensation from the Attorney-General, on behalf of the NZDF, after she claimed her superior officers failed to act when informed of Roper's crimes.

Roper bullied, verbally abused, sexually harassed, inappropriately touched and falsely imprisoned her between 1985 and 1988, she said.

She sought $600,000 in compensation, special damages for loss of earnings, medical and other expenses, and interest and legal costs.

Robert Roper was jailed for 13 years for his offending. Photo / Supplied
Robert Roper was jailed for 13 years for his offending. Photo / Supplied

M was just 18 at the time of Roper's offending and in her own words was "very shy, quiet and naive".

She said Roper would grope her as she was driving him home late at night, and regularly lock her and leave her in a tyre cage.

Roper would also rub himself against her, try and undo her bra straps, and use an iron bar to prod her in the backside, she said.

There were other sexually intimidating conduct by Roper too, she said, such as bursting into the female changing rooms and the female night-shift bedrooms, and ogling at M during section parades.

At Roper's criminal trial, one victim told the court the sergeant offered her a ride home before driving her to the bombing range where he bound her hands with the seatbelt and raped her.

Similar evidence was heard at M's hearing in the High Court at Auckland in March, where several women said they were wary of Roper offering to drive them home.

When giving evidence, M said: "A lot of us girls just gave up telling our story."

At Roper's criminal trial, one victim said the rapist drove her from the base to the bombing range before abusing her. Photo / NZ Herald
At Roper's criminal trial, one victim said the rapist drove her from the base to the bombing range before abusing her. Photo / NZ Herald

M, who left the RNZAF in the late 1980s but returned in the 1990s in a civilian role, said she complained about Roper to Flight Sergeant Robert McKinney and Flight Lieutenant Bryce Meredith.

However, both officers denied receiving a specific complaint from M.

Today, Justice Rebecca Edwards dismissed her claim for damages.

The judge said although she accepted many of M's allegations and there was a connection between Roper's abuse and her post-traumatic stress disorder - diagnosed in 2016 after the civil proceedings were filed - her claim was barred by both the Limitation Act and by the Accident Compensation Act.

Justice Edwards ruled the statutory bar on bringing claims out of time meant the court was not required to consider whether the RNZAF could have been held liable for any loss M claimed.

The NZDF commissioned a report to investigate the handling of historic sexual abuse, harassment and bullying at Whenuapai. Photo / File
The NZDF commissioned a report to investigate the handling of historic sexual abuse, harassment and bullying at Whenuapai. Photo / File

At M's hearing, her counsel Graeme Little said the insistence of the NZDF to deal with problems in-house had contributed to Roper's offending.

It was only the civilian police which took steps to hold Roper accountable, he said.

Several NZDF failures were highlighted in an independent report about how the Air Force handled the sexual predator, including the destruction of complaint and investigation files.

The report, prepared by Frances Joychild QC, into historic sexual abuse allegations involving Roper 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.