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Yesterday, at the Dunedin District Court, 64-year-old Richard Joseph Wekking was jailed for 11 years and the women he violently abused had the final word.
“Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I can finally put this behind me and I’ll not be Ricky’s victim any more,” one of the three victims said.
“If I can survive this, I can survive anything.”
Wekking was found guilty of 37 sex charges following a jury trial in January and yesterday the court heard he maintained his innocence, backed by his wife of 40 years who continued to stand by him.
Judge Michael Crosbie paid tribute to the strength of the victims and condemned the actions of their tormentor.
“Your offending was more than depraved, it was more than perverted, it was violent,” he said.
“The effect was to rob all three young women of their childhood, particularly of their innocence.”
Two of the women were repeatedly violated between 1981 and 1988 while the third was targeted by Wekking in 1992.
At trial, the first two victims detailed a horrifying array of crimes, which included multiple instances of rape as well as the defendant forcing them to perform sex acts on each other.
“I found aspects of [the victims’] evidence in that respect harrowing,” said Judge Crosbie.
“It was vile, it was degrading and it was disgusting, Mr Wekking.”
It had only been due to “manipulative forces” that the case had not been reported to police earlier, the judge said.
Wekking invented a series of games to disguise his crimes and would tell the girls he was checking they were clean as he committed the numerous indecencies over the years.’
Two of the women also told the court how the defendant regularly exposed them to pornography to the point where it was normalised.
Each victim told the court yesterday that their views on relationships and men had been warped by the trauma.
The abuse had permeated many areas of their lives and two of the women said they had attempted suicide because of it.
“For years I struggled to wash myself because I didn’t like the feeling of touch in that context,” one victim said.
“I felt like a pervert just washing my own children in the bath.”
Another woman said she stood in front of Wekking on behalf of her childhood self.
“Other children were afraid of monsters and things that go bump in the night but I had bigger things to be afraid of. My monsters were everyday people who wore everyday clothes,” she said.
“No-one has made me feel as small as you did; no-one has made me feel as cursed as you have.”
Wekking was assessed by a psychologist who described him as “passive-aggressive”, avoiding certain topics and shifting the blame.
He came to New Zealand from Canada with his family at the age of 6 but had an unsettled upbringing, the report said.
While his victims continued to be affected by the abuse they suffered, they remained resolute.
“This hill you have left me broken and messed up on is not the one I die on. I’m still here and I’m not done fighting,” one said.