26 May 2023

Mama Hooch sexual assaults: Name supression lift 'important' for victims, one says

12:27 pm on 26 May 2023
The Mama Hooch trial. Danny Jaz, left, and Roberto Jaz appear in the Christchurch District Court charged with sexual violation 07 February 2023 POOL PICTURE SUPPLIED

Danny Jaz, left, and Roberto Jaz appear in the Christchurch District Court on 7 February, 2023. Photo: Supplied / POOL

One of the women targeted by the brothers convicted of rape and drink-spiking at a Christchurch bar has described the removal of the pair's suppression orders as "a great weight off".

The names of Danny and Roberto Jaz, who were found guilty on dozens of charges including rape, sexual violation, indecent assault and drink-spiking related to the central city bar Mama Hooch, were finally revealed on Thursday.

The pair were convicted last month following a two-month, judge-alone trial.

Justice Jonathan Eaton dismissed appeals to continue their name suppression in the Christchurch High Court on Thursday.

The woman, who used the alias Jane when she spoke exclusively with RNZ, was one of 30 women involved in the district court trial.

She said she was "elated" when the brothers were finally named.

"I think I was just relieved that it was finally able to come out.

"It was really important that the name suppression was able to be lifted because they were able to take that shame that was put onto the victims and put it on to the perpetrators ... Danny and Roberto Jaz."

The woman did not want to detail the fateful night that led to a police complaint.

But she described the past five years, as the Jaz brothers were investigated, as "very difficult" given her inability to discuss the case.

"It's been really difficult to have permanent name suppression, not being able to talk to people about the trial, to fully express what happened to me.

"For other people to understand in context, I think some people knew of what happened to me, just in close groups of friends.

"But I think a lot of people really struggled, and I think even family members struggled, to understand or contextualise just how bad this whole situation was."

Danny Jaz used to manage the Mama Hooch bar, while Roberto Jaz was a chef at neighbouring restaurant Venuti.

Both repeatedly committed sexual assaults to varying degrees of severity while employed at the venues.

They were then involved in raping, assaulting and filming drugged victims - the majority of which were aged between 18 and 24 years old.

The pair also discussed the acts in a WhatsApp group chat.

Jane said she had to "tiptoe" around the case at her place of work amid other personal struggles due to the case.

"It's definitely set me back in terms of career opportunities".

She admitted to struggling as to understand "why I was chosen and why it had to be me".

"For a long period of time, I was not able to know what drugs I was given, I had no idea.

"I was given multiple drinks and shots ... it was really challenging to know exactly what I was given.

"I had never touched recreational drugs before so for me it was really horrific knowing that something had been done against my will."

Coming face to face with the men in court when giving evidence, Jane described how she overcame her dismay by eyeballing the pair, a moment she described as "empowering".

"It was really hard," she said.

"For a long time, I actually had my head down, I was really struggling, I just had to focus on my breathing.

"And then I just saw them, and I just couldn't stop looking, I continued glancing at them.

"That was a great feeling of power, that they had no control over you anymore, they were put in this vulnerable position.

"In some ways, it was quite empowering to see."

Aviva Client Services Manager for Sexual Violence Services Jo Bader had assisted survivors in the case.

She believed parts of the judicial process in the Mama Hooch case had not always favoured the survivors.

"A lot of it has favoured the offenders, they've been on bail until they were convicted, in the face of very serious, multiple charges," she said.

"It's really important that it's their [survivors] turn now, to be about them, about what's important and what's necessary for them.

"I'm sure a lot of them will be feeling validated and vindicated."

Danny and Roberto Jaz will be sentenced on 24 and 25 August.

Where to get help:

*If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 - push 0 at the menu

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334

Male Survivors Aotearoa

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) 022 344 0496

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: free counselling for 5 to 19 years old, online chat 11am-10.30pm 7days/week or free phone 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 11am-11pm

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Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

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