Prominent businessman steps into witness box to fight sex assault allegations

A prominent businessman says he can't remember ever meeting some of the men who accuse him of sexual assault.

Source: 1 NEWS

The rich lister is charged with indecent assault against three men. He and his manager are also accused of attempting to stop a witness from giving testimony.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Crown finished presenting its case against the two men yesterday. During the trial, the three complainants gave details of the alleged assaults.

“[The businessman] grabbed my trousers, yanked them outwards and stuck his hands down my pants,” one complainant, who said he visited the businessman’s house in late 2000 or early 2001, told the court.

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The prosecution claims the group’s discussing how to stop a witness giving evidence. Source: 1 NEWS

Another man said the businessman touched his bottom and kissed his neck when he visited his house in 2008. He also claimed the businessman drugged him.

A third complainant, who was staying at the house in 2016, claimed the businessman entered his room and climbed into his bed while he was unwell.

“He was fondling my penis. He was caressing my body,” he told the court.

After the Crown finished its case yesterday morning, the businessman's lawyer, David Jones, addressed the 12-person jury.

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The businessman, who has name suppression, is currently on trial in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

“Logic, reason and common sense is what the defence relies on because there are fundamental flaws in the Crown’s case,” said Mr Jones.

“[The police] have their objective, which is to prosecute. They are not looking at this from the ground up.”

It is not compulsory for a defendant to speak in his defence or prove his innocence, Jones told the jury.

“It’s easy for the Crown to make allegations of abuse of power and abuse of position.”

Jones then called the businessman to the stand and asked him if he remembered the first two complainants, and if he recognised them when they earlier gave evidence in court.

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The rich-lister, who has name suppression, is accused of assaulting three men. Source: 1 NEWS

“No,” the businessman replied.

Jones also asked the businessman to recall what he believed happened on the night in 2016, when the third complainant said he was assaulted.

“When you were in his room, did you ever get into or onto the bed?,” asked Jones.

“Never. I stood beside the bed trying to get him into it,” the businessman responded.

The businessman said the man had earlier been told to leave his house and he was “bitter” about it, and said he "didn't like the guy".

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The High Court has ruled media can’t identified the accused man. Source: 1 NEWS

He also denied being involved in attempting to stop a complainant from giving testimony on two occasions.

Earlier in the trial a PR agent - who has immunity and name suppression - claimed he was engaged to travel to Australia and make a job offer to the 2016 complainant in exchange for withdrawing his police complaint in New Zealand.

The court heard that an associate of the PR manager — a prominent entertainer who also has name immunity — and the businessman's manager were also involved.

The businessman said that PR agent was engaged to help with reputation management when he was concerned that his name might be exposed overseas, where New Zealand name suppression laws could not be enforced.

“It was going to undermine the whole business of name suppression here, with the internet, and therefore the whole point of suppression for reputational purposes.”

The trial continues.