25 Jan 2019

Man who sexually assaulted elderly woman avoids jail term

4:07 pm on 25 January 2019

A Wellington academic who sexually assaulted an elderly woman at a rest home has avoided a jail term.

Elderly woman's hands, care for the elderly concept

Photo: 123rf.com

The man - whose name is suppressed until midnight tonight - was sentenced in the Wellington District Court on one charge of indecent assault over the attack last May.

The victim's daughter made an statement in the Wellington District Court today as she addressed the man who sexually assaulted her elderly mother:

"Her bright, sparking eyes were now dull and sadness enveloped her body. I held her while she sobbed time and time again. We talked and hugged and cried.

"What the hell were you thinking? She's 82 years old - is that ok with you? How could you contemplate that?"

She said the defendant's few moments of sick pleasure had changed her mum immeasurably, leaving her more mentally confused, struggling with daily tasks and affecting her mobility.

Judge Stephen Harrop outlined the man's offending, saying he followed his victim into her room at the resthome and shut the door

"You kissed and touched her and put one hand on her breast and with the other rubbed her vagina on the outside of her clothing as she tried to push you away.

"You closed the curtains and again kissed the victim and touched her vagina. A caregiver saw you and ... left to find a manager."

Judge Harrop said the man continued his assault on the woman, including showing her his genitals and removing her pants and underwear and when he was asked about what had happened he claimed the woman had consented.

The man's lawyer, Peter Foster, said his client's offending was a huge and inexplicable fall from grace.

"He's provided references from pillars of the community who know of his offending and speak of him as normally being a man of integrity.

"Why it happened may be a mystery, but [the defendant's] doctor refers to it in the [self-]esteem issue."

Mr Foster said his client was already working on that and was undergoing sessions with WellStop, a service providing counselling to sex offenders.

The defendant read a statement to the Court in which he apologised to the victim and her family, saying he was mentally unwell at the time, and the pressures of overwork and looking after his mother had taken their toll.

"First and foremost, I apologise to my victim. I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain and distress I caused you. What I did was wrong.

"Equally, I apologise to my victim's family. I am very sorry for the pain and hurt I caused you. You were entitled to assume your mum would be left in peace at the rest home. I undermined that.

"I apologise to the staff at the rest home. I betrayed the trust you placed in me. I am sorry."

The man said he would regret what he did for the rest of his life and wished never to cause such pain and distress to anyone ever again.

Mr Foster said his client was genuinely remorseful and offered emotional harm reparation of $3000 to the victim. He acknowledged they might not want the money but said if that was the case it could be redirected to a suitable charity.

Judge Harrop set a sentence starting point of 22 months in jail, equal to 11 months of home detention.

He granted the defendant credit for his early guilty plea, previous good conduct, the remorse he had expressed, and his offer of reparation.

The man was sentenced to eight months home detention and ordered to carry out 100 hours of community work.

He will also pay $3000 emotional harm reparation.