Man guilty on two counts of sexual abuse

A man's wife could not hold back her tears as her husband was found guilty on two counts of sexual abuse following a two week trial at the Dunedin District Court.

The 70-year-old man, who has interim name suppression, was found guilty by jury on Saturday of indecently assaulting a woman he had shared a professional relationship with more than 15 years ago.

The incidents occurred between May 1 and June 30 and on September 17, 1999.

In relation to the first charge, the jury found the defendant had, on at least one occasion, inappropriately touched the victim's breasts while in his car following ice skating trips he had organised for the pair.

On the second charge, the jury found the defendant guilty of stimulating the victim's groin with his hand while she was in hospital after overdosing on paracetamol.

The two week case was dominated by questions surrounding the credibility of the victim's evidence given the historic nature of the incidents and her history of mental health issues.

The victim suffered from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder at the time of the incidents, the court heard.

However, after hearing impartial evidence from two clinical psychologists called in to assist in the case, as well as a raft of other witnesses, the jury reached a majority decision the victim's evidence was reliable.

Crown counsel Robin Bates argued the defendant had broken the bounds of a professional relationship by arranging the numerous social outings and visiting the woman in hospital when he had no business being there.

The victim said in her evidence the defendant parked his car in secluded areas and indecently touched her several times after the ice skating trips, including on one occasion when he touched her on the stomach, breasts and groin during a timed five minute period.

The victim said the defendant told her she needed to get used to being touched in order to overcome her issues with anxiety and that their relationship was ''a bit like an arranged marriage''.

During other meetings, the defendant insisted he hold the woman's hand and on one occasion hugged her, she said.

Of the hospital incident, the woman said the defendant rubbed and squeezed her groin under her hospital gown and dug his nails into her thigh, leaving a bruise.

He had earlier asked a nurse to leave the room and the curtains were pulled, she said.

Defence counsel Harry Waalkens QC argued there was nothing untoward about the pair's meetings and there was no evidence the defendant had indecently touched the victim.

The defendant had made no secret of the ice skating trips and visited the woman in hospital out of concern, he said.

In his evidence, the defendant said the woman had created an ''elaborate edifice'' of lies against him and they had no basis in reality.

The man will reappear in Dunedin District Court on November 16, when a sentencing date will be set.

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