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Serial teen sex offender’s battle to keep name secret | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


A serial teen sex offender’s battle to keep his name secret has been heard by New Zealand’s highest court, in what would be a precedent-setting case.

The 20-year-old man was sentenced in April 2022 to a year’s home detention and a year of post-detention counselling and therapy after pleading guilty to multiple counts of rape and sexual assault against six young women, several of whom he went to high school with, in Auckland. The offending occurred between 2017 and 2020, when he was aged 14 to 17.

Three of his survivors — Mia Edmonds, Rosie Veldkamp and Ellie Oram — spoke out about their experiences in a Sunday special report last year. They said the attacks they suffered as teenagers had changed their lives forever, and that name suppression for their offender was an ongoing insult.

The offender lost name suppression when he was sentenced in the Auckland District Court last April, but his lawyer appealed it. The case then went to the High Court, and the Court of Appeal. Name suppression was denied at each court.

In a Supreme Court hearing today, the offender’s lawyer Emma Priest said the man’s recently diagnosed autism was a “key factor” in his offending, as he wasn’t able to pick up on social cues.

READ MORE: Not our shame: Speaking out after sexual assault

She said publication of the man’s name would have a “significant impact” on his family, and could lead to vigilante attacks.

Priest raised the impact of social media on young people, and that the man would likely receive threats and negative attention.

“We know exactly what will happen to [the offender], he may have to leave Auckland, he may have to change his name… I submit that that’s not a reasonable or appropriate outcome, to expect a young person to do that in order to live.”

Priest also argued that a young person connected to the man may also be identified if his name was to be made public.

“[The young person] will be unable to escape bullying and ostracism,” she said.

Crown lawyer Zannah Johnston disputed the argument that the man couldn’t understand his victims did not consent to the attacks, some of which happened at parties.

“The victims were quite clearly saying no… some of the victims were effectively unconscious.”

Johnston said it was “a stretch” to suggest members of the general public may carry out vigilante attacks if the man’s name was released. Threats that were made online were very rarely acted upon, she argued.

She said there would be a point where media attention would likely “die down” after publication of the man’s name, and he would be able to avoid seeing negative commentary about himself.

“It’s within his power to not Google himself every day,” Johnston said.

Johnston said the man hadn’t faced “social accountability” for his offending and that the victims’ wish to have their attacker named was not fuelled by a desire for retribution.

“They’re not asking [the offender] to stand in a public square with a sign around his neck to be shamed… they’re asking for the right to tell their friend, and maybe don’t go on a date with this guy or go to a party at this house.”

“This was very serious offending and repeated offending over a period of time, there is a public safety aspect,” Johnston said.

On the issue of the young person connected to the man, Johnston said that all defendants before the court would likely be connected to someone who would suffer hardship if their name was published, but that in itself shouldn’t be a reason for suppression.

The case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to examine the effects of suppression on young offenders and their rehabilitation prospects, and would set a precedent for future cases.

The offender’s name suppression remains in place while judges Hon Justice Ellen France, Hon Justice Susan Glazebrook, Right Honourable Helen Winkelmann, Chief Justice, Hon Justice Mark O’Regan and Hon Justice Stephen Kós consider their decision.





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