A new reality show has been rocked by the revelation one of its stars took advantage of a teenager's drunkenness to get her into bed then covered her mouth and nose to keep her quiet when she called for help.
TVNZ's FBoy Island NZ is less than a fortnight from going to air with Wayde Moore, 26, as one of 20 young men vying for the attention of three women who must decide if they are "nice guys" or "Fboys".
The term FBoys is slang for "f*** boy", a term for men who never intend a sexual encounter to involve a relationship or act as if entitled to sexual encounters.
This week the state broadcaster learned Moore appeared in court last year charged with suffocating a woman he admitted to police he lured to his home because she was drunk and he hoped to have sex with her.
The woman, who has name suppression, told the Herald on Sunday that TVNZ should drop the show because it glorifies behaviour that puts women at risk. She said at the least Moore should be dropped from the show and all its marketing material.
"It doesn't promote the changes we need to make. It promotes negative sexual activity."
Moore was found not guilty of the charge of suffocation but copped a broadside from district court judge Noel Sainsbury who said his behaviour in targeting a drunk and vulnerable woman was "deeply inappropriate and disrespectful".
The not guilty verdict came after Judge Sainsbury said the 2018 law required it be proved that Moore intended to restrict her breathing. Court documents show he testified he had covered her mouth and nose to keep her quiet. He faced no other charges.
Judge Sainsbury highlighted the Law Commission report that led to the law, which said it should be kept "as straightforward as possible" and not include the need to prove intent - advice Parliament did not follow.
As a result, said the judge, it was not possible to "exclude the reasonable possibility that he was trying to stop her making noise" which meant he "must be acquitted".
The woman was aged 19 at the time and Moore was aged 24. They had known each other for a number of years and had connected again when they were living in Wellington.
The woman had been out clubbing in Wellington and found herself drunk with no money to get home. When Moore called her, he offered an Uber to his place which - she told the court - was close to her home so she could visit him then walk to her flat.
"She did not think that was a sexual invitation." Evidence in the case showed she had previously told Moore she had no interest in a physical relationship with him.
And yet, the judge recorded Moore's interview with police in which he was "quite upfront about his intentions" - "he was hoping that if he could get [the woman] to the house, he might be able to have sex with her".
Judge Sainsbury said Moore's goal was "deeply inappropriate and disrespectful" as he knew the woman was drunk and also particularly vulnerable, having been victim to a recent serious sexual assault that had occurred when she was asleep in bed.
He said evidence showed Moore "inveigling her up to his flat in the hope that somehow, if she was sufficiently intoxicated, then maybe she would acquiesce to sex."
The woman testified how she awoke next to Moore in his bed with no recollection of how she got there. She was still clothed and Moore was in his boxer shorts.
When she tried to get up to leave, the judgment in the case said Moore "pulled her back, putting his hand around her mouth and blocking her nose, and grabbing her arm". At that point, Moore had his left hand over her face and his right hand on her arm "effectively restraining her".
The judge said: "She was shouting, calling for help. She said that the force of the hand over her mouth was such that it muffled what she was saying."
Moore sent a text to the woman a month later saying: "I just wanted to message to say I'm sorry for the way things turned out that night. I hate myself every day for that since … I don't ever expect your forgiveness, but I want you to know I am genuinely sorry."
Judge Sainsbury said the apology showed Moore realised he had "inappropriately pushed matters", "was taking advantage of the complainant, and he was ashamed of that".
Sainsbury said the woman's account was accurate and honest and supported by witnesses. In contrast, he described one part of Moore's evidence as "implausible".
The woman complained to TVNZ on Tuesday and on Friday received a message saying someone would be "having a call with you in a few days" which, she said, included the words "looking forward to chatting".
"I'm not looking forward to chatting," she said. "It's not a 'chat' - it's a serious situation."
She said the handling of it was "a prime example of why women don't speak up". "Women have been silenced for too long and it needs to change."
Moore told the Herald he did not mention the case to Warner Bros because he had not been convicted. His criminal record check produced a clean slate.
"It was something that was dealt with and was over. I thought there was no need to mention it to Warner Bros or to anyone."
He said he was upset at the time because his parents were separating, he had lost his job because of Covid-19 and was "really drunk" that day. "I was needing someone because I was emotionally unstable at the time."
Moore said the experience motivated him to go on the show. "I was going on there to show people can be better and this is me trying to be better."
He rejected claims he had tried to suffocate the woman, saying he was trying to keep her quiet.
"When it's three in the morning and someone comes to your house and starts yelling out, it's the most human reaction and I acted the way anyone would."
The Herald interviewed Moore's flatmates present that night. The first intervened when he heard the woman screaming "no" repeatedly, first loudly then "like screaming through a pillow".
"It was a very loud muffled noise. I could hear her saying 'help, help, help, help'."
He knocked on the door and entered to find the woman "crying… she was totally distressed, makeup was everywhere, she was completely distraught".
The second flatmate described encountering a similar scenario. "She was saying things like, 'why would he do that to me'." The second flatmate said he asked if he should call the police. Moore agreed that he should.
A spokeswoman for TVNZ said the broadcaster and Warner Bros International Television Production "take allegations of this nature extremely seriously".
She said Warner Bros had carried out the psychological assessments and Ministry of Justice checks TVNZ required for contestants on shows like FBoy Island NZ. She said casting processes were now being reviewed.
"We are working with WBITVP to ensure that their casting processes are as robust as possible, and will be reviewing these allegations over the coming days."
Told of the woman's view the show should not broadcast or, at least, not feature Moore, the spokeswoman said: "As stated, we take these matters extremely seriously and will be reviewing the matter in the coming days".
Massey University associate professor Tracey Nicholls, author of Dismantling Rape Culture: The Peacebuilding Power of 'Me Too', said the premise of the show reinforced negative stereotypes of sexual relationships.
She said it reinforced the idea of sexual competition among men and women as "notches on a bed post as a game". "I feel there has been a race to the bottom ever since reality TV started."