Judge: victim should not feel guilty after ordeal

A woman repeatedly groped by a student at a Dunedin street party says she feels guilty about her choice of clothing that day.

Patrick John Hessian (20) appeared in the Dunedin District Court where yesterday he made a bid to avoid conviction on a charge of committing an indecent act.

Judge Michael Crosbie declined the application and expressed significant concern that the victim felt any fault over the incident at the Hyde St Party on April 13 last year.

‘‘I found it very sad, if not troubling ... that in 2020 a young woman feels she has to apologise for what she decided to wear that day and that she currently believes that this will possibly change what she wears,’’ he said.

‘‘She should feel free to dress how she pleases. She has done absolutely nothing wrong.’’

Hessian and his victim — unknown to each other until the day in question — were sitting on a fence among the throng of revellers.

The defendant first tried to kiss the woman.

There were several attempts, the court heard, all of which were rebuffed.

When Hessian tried to put his hands down the woman’s shirt, she told him to stop.

Still, he continued.

Finally, according to court documents, the defendant put his face between her breasts and ‘‘motor-boated’’ her — moving his head from side to side.

The victim fled and found a police officer.

Counsel Meg Scally said her client’s actions were born out of immaturity and alcohol consumption.

It was a spontaneous lapse, she said.

But Judge Crosbie said there was persistence to Hessian’s lewd behaviour.

‘‘She said ‘no’. She said ‘stop’.’’

In a statement, the victim wrote she still felt a ‘‘massive guilt’’ about what had taken place.

‘‘I couldn’t help wondering if it was my fault what happened to me because of what clothes I decided to wear that day,’’ she said.

The incident had caused trauma from her past to resurface and she had started seeing a counsellor again.

The victim was also frustrated with the amount of time it took for Hessian to admit the crime.

‘‘I don’t know why he thought it was OK to violate me the way he did,’’ she said.

Hessian was now in his final semester studying electrical engineering and Ms Scally said a conviction would ‘‘haunt him’’ for many years to come.

The potential problems would be magnified in the post-Covid-19 world where the job market was even more competitive, she said.

The judge accepted Hessian’s future prospects would be damaged but ruled those consequences were not out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

Hessian was sentenced to 100 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $1000 to the victim.



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