The front page of the Herald this morning has the appalling story of a man desperately afraid of his own name.
A man who is now a marriage guidance counsellor threw his wife into a door frame, splitting her head open, then dragged her down the hall by the neck.
The attack on the woman was watched by her 6-year-old son, who grabbed his stepfather around the leg, yelling, “Leave my mummy alone.”
The man was convicted this week on two charges of assaulting his ex-wife and was sentenced to six months’ home detention – enabling him to keep working as a counsellor.
The trial, in the Manukau District Court, lasted three weeks.
The attack happened 15 years ago but the victim took years to build up the courage to face the man in court.
She had also grown frustrated at his rising profile in marriage guidance.
Judge Semi Epati granted the 50-year-old man name suppression, a decision which angered his victim.
I have been contacted by the support group of this man’s victims. they are disgusted by the whole justice system and process they have just endured.
What hasn’t been reported is the directions the jury were given during the trial by the judge. At the start of the trial the judge informed the court and the jury that he had a long standing very good friendship with the defence counsel. It was couched very much in a nudge, nudge, wink, wink kind of way.
What is worse though is that the two complainants have said all through the court process that they did not want nor need name suppression, and that they opposed his name suppression, the judge ignored them and he ignored the Crown representations on the matter.
But it gets even worse. The judge refused to allow one of the complainants to read her victim impact statement. This is an outrage. We have government policy and advertising campaigns that “It’s Not Ok” and in a classic case of spousal abuse from not one but two complainants the judge just ignores all that.
Then he sentenced him to 6 months home detention, in his luxury property so he can carry on business as a leading light in the marriage guidance industry.
He is so high profile that many media and news outlets go to him frequently for comment on marriage couselling and aspects of the law surrounding this.
Hypocritically the man also has decried the secrecy surrounding the Family Court.
This case is yet another outrage and a prime case for the removal of name suppression. It appears that this man has got his name suppression solely because of the personal relationship between his lawyer, and Judge Epati.
I have also had calls from concerned trainers/tutors at tertiary institutions who refer student to counsellors for work experience wanting to make sure that they aren’t referring students to him. This is a man with 3 failed marriages and several more failed relationships who has built a reputation for himself in marriage couselling, and a luxury business too, I might add, that is based on dirty dark secrets that no one is allowed to know.
I wonder too if the Baptist Church shouldn’t also be in the dock for aiding and abetting the continued hiding of this man, sending him clients and recommending him to parishioners. They too have ignored the stories of his serial abuse, and they too have hidden the abuse not just of women but also of children by this man. He still advertises what a great christian man and pillar of the Baptist Church he is.
It sickens me. It appalls me that our justice system is so easily manipulated.
That is an outrage.