The Herald reports:
A prominent New Zealander has been cleared of sex charges against two girls.
After deliberation, the jury in the High Court at Whangarei returned not guilty verdicts on all 12 charges of doing an indecent act.
Members of the man’s family cried as the not guilty verdicts flooded in.
Several supporters clapped and celebrated as the final acquittal was read out by the foreperson.
The jury heard all the evidence and decided the defendant was not guilty – that the accusations were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
I’m not surprised by the verdict. The media reports on the trial didn’t indicate a strong case for the prosecution (of course you need to be wary of relying on media reports), and several people who actually attended the trial said the prosecution’s case was very weak.
The name of the prominent New Zealanders is suppressed. So no hints or worse about who it is, even though of course most know. The reason for the name suppression is to protect the complainants.
Personally I wish there was not name suppression. I actually think the defendant has been disadvantaged by the name suppression, as he has been unable to defend himself publicly – except in court.
A number of other prominent New Zealanders spent months declaring the defendant was guilty and doing everything they could to both destroy him and deny him a fair trial. They should apologise if they had any decency, but I am sure they won’t.
At the end of the day there are no winners out of this case. The complainants will be feeling very bruised and sad, and the defendant has to now rebuild his life. It’s a very sad case.