A man told a court he believed his drink was spiked by what he called a “predatory” and “completely scary” businessman before being indecently assaulted by him.
The high-profile businessman, who deleted his name, is on trial at the Auckland High Court. He is accused of indecently assaulting three men on different occasions in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016, which he denies.
One of the plaintiffs, the second to speak, recalled being invited to a meeting at the businessman’s house after asking for a few thousand dollars in funding for a business.
“It was an unusual discussion. I felt that immediately,” the man said. He said that the tone of the discussion had a notable balance of power, where he had to convince the man that he was “worthy”.
Without being asked if he wanted one, he said the accused mixed him with a gin and tonic, then a second later – both being made with the accused’s back turned towards him so that he couldn’t see what was going on in the drinks.
He said he was told to stay longer, even though he didn’t really want to, but that he did so out of politeness to the man he was asking to support him financially.
“‘By the way, you’re staying for dinner. It wasn’t a question. It was an instruction.”
He said he had also had a glass or two of wine with dinner, and soon after, he started to feel strange.
“I was starting to feel dizzy, nauseous, I felt like I was starting to have less control over my body. I did not feel well. And that’s not a feeling I’ve had since.
The man then decided he had been drugged.
He told the jury that he felt worse and worse as he was shown around the house, which ended in the man’s bedroom.
There, he was shown an adjoining bedroom, which had a door directly from the businessman’s bedroom, and the businessman told him “this is where you would stay”.
He said he knew it was time to go.
“I was starting to feel just awful, and also because the tone of where things were going was really uncomfortable and scared me. It’s one of those times you go through in your life where every cell of your body says it’s time to get outside, it’s time to go. “
But as he turned and started to walk out, he said that the accused had come behind him.
“[He] put her hand on my back, and squeezed it and whispered, said in my ear “my god you have such a nice ass”. I just froze, I was kind of scared. Then he started to kiss the back of the neck. “
Feeling worse and worse and now in danger, he tried to leave again, this time with more intent.
“All I wanted to do, my only motivation, was to go out and come home. Because I was afraid of what was going to happen, of what could happen. I could feel that I was losing the abilities of my body and my vision, and I had this, frankly, this person with very scary behavior following me. “
He said he had a hard time finding a phone, both due to its haze and being in a stranger’s house, and that he was not helped at all by the accused. He finally called a cab, and when he got home he said he had vomited and could barely speak to tell his partner what had happened.
Lawyer for the businessman, David Jones QC, suggested that the whole drug and assault story was not true – it was fictional, invented by the plaintiff because he had messed up the meeting and failed to get the money.
“I suggest that the most that has happened, when it comes to physical contact, is the handshake,” Jones said.
“Well, you weren’t there and I was, and I know what happened to me and what parts of my body were affected,” the man replied.
The vertigo, Jones said, was actually because he had drunk too much.
“Do you think that you may have felt bad because you stuffed yourself with food and alcohol?” Jones said.
“I distinctly remember the feeling I got … it was something I had never experienced before, and I strongly, instinctively felt that my drinks were drugged,” replied the man.
Jones asked if he was so sure he was high on drugs, why didn’t he go to a doctor the next day for a blood test, which would either confirm or refute the claim. The man said he hadn’t thought of it.
The complainant described the evening as a “horrible thing” and “frightening and predatory behavior” that he wanted to give up and did not want to relive, which would be necessary if he had turned to the police. He feared it would last for years and end up in a situation like this – in court, accused of lying.
“I don’t make up stories of assault, drugs and lies on people so that I can get myself in a situation like this just to seemingly, you think, apologize for not getting five thousand dollars.”
The man said he didn’t come forward until 10 years later because he heard that someone else accused the same man of similar behavior and wanted to be in solidarity with them.
The trial, before a jury and Judge Venning, continues.