Man in his 40s sentenced for sex offence against teen

A man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl puts it down to "10 minutes of drunken madness", his lawyer says.

Murdoch Thomas Rodgers, a farm manager of Wharetoa, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to committing an indecent act against his victim.

Counsel Steve Turner highlighted the 41-year-old’s immediate concession of responsibility both in court and to police.

"He puts his chin out and says ‘I accept it’," Judge Emma Smith acknowledged.

Rodgers, the court heard, was the only adult home while consuming alcohol and cannabis with several teenagers in February this year.

Mr Turner stressed his client was not responsible for supplying the substances but he admitted downing rum while his victim drank vodka.

In the early hours of the morning, Rodgers was left alone with the 14-year-old girl who approached and kissed him as he lay on the couch.

The defendant groped the teenager and she performed a sex act on him.

However, the incident ended abruptly when Rodgers fell asleep due to his intoxication.

When spoken to by police, the man said he was going through a "rough time" and had been self-medicating with large amounts of alcohol and cannabis.

Mr Turner elaborated.

Rodgers had been the victim of a serious assault last year in which he was attacked by a work colleague armed with a knife.

He had a photographic memory of the incident, the court heard, and had subsequently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Turner said Rodgers had since sought help to address his psychological issues and had abstained from alcohol and smoking illicit substances.

Police prosecutor Dave Tod said the victim had declined to provide an impact statement and said she had not been emotionally affected at all.

The prospect of bumping into Rodgers again did not concern her, he said.

Judge Smith said the response only spoke to the victim’s inherent vulnerability because of her age.

"I take the view she’s likely to be harmed by this," she said.

The judge accepted Rodgers’ remorse was genuine and noted he had no previous convictions.

"You blame her for absolutely nothing and you’re right not to," she said.

"You don’t offer any excuse."

Judge Smith sentenced the defendant to 12 months’ intensive supervision, 300 hours’ community work and ordered him to pay the victim $1500.

Rodgers was given a first-strike warning under the three-strikes legislation.



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