Woman sexually harassed in the Air Force starts new claim for compensation

4:25 pm on 1 July 2020

A woman who was sexually harassed in the Air Force by a sergeant known as "Groper Roper" is allowed to start a new claim for compensation.

Whenuapai Air Base - RNZAF Base Auckland

Mariya Taylor was abused by Robert Roper at the Whenuapai base in the 1980s. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Mariya Taylor was abused by Robert Roper at the Whenuapai base in the 1980s.

Roper was jailed for 13 years in 2014 for sexual offending against five girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2018, Justice Edwards ruled Taylor's claim for compensation had been brought too late.

She appealed that ruling in the Court of Appeal last year.

At that hearing, her lawyers said Taylor was terrified of Roper.

Graeme Little SC said: "She flew to the other side of the world to get away from him".

When Taylor left the Air Force she was a "psychological wreck", Little said.

She was also "sad, depressed and angered at the Air Force", he added.

In a decision released this morning, the Court of Appeal directed the matter back to the High Court to consider compensation.

Taylor's lawyer Geraldine Whiteford said it had been an emotional day.

She said her client was "thrilled" with the court's decision and was still taking to time to process it all.