The defence will claim a 19-year-old woman’s rape complaint arose from her view that she was being “disrespected” after having casual sex in the atmosphere of University of Canterbury end-of-term partying.
“This is a case of a young woman who had consenting, willing sexual activity with two people and then regretted it almost immediately afterwards and cried rape,” said Tony Greig, defence counsel for one of the two young men in trial.
The Crown puts a different picture on the activities in a borrowed room at the University’s Halls of Residence. It says the woman had been dozing after having consensual sex with a man she had met at The Foundry bar at the university that night, when another two men sneaked into the room in the dark and committed rape and sexual violation.
The woman still believed two days later when she was interviewed by the police that it was the first man who had returned to the room, who was one of the men having sex with her.
The Christchurch District Court trial before Judge Alistair Garland and a jury is expected to last all week. On trial are Kenneth John James Seddon-Nicholas, 24, a freezing worker, and Akaporn Kanthasao Bearman, 24, a graduate and sports coach, who deny four charges involving rape and sexual violation. One man is charged as the principal offender while the other is charged as a party to three of the offences, and charged with sexual violation for an incident of digital penetration.
Apart from one aspect of the incident, the men admit the sexual activity took place but claim that they believed the woman consented and say they would have stopped immediately if they had believed she did not consent.
The court was told of the incident taking place on the night of June 2 to 3, 2012, when the university term had ended and assignments had been handed in. Bearman’s defence counsel David Bunce said there was “a sexual undercurrent in the air – a lot of flirting”.
“Sexual activity in these circumstances can occur very rapidly, and on brief acquaintance, and it obviously did,” he said.
Mr Greig said Seddon-Nicholas left the woman soon after having sex with her and encouraging her to perform oral sex. “At that point she realised she probably wasn’t being treated with respect and she became upset and it became a rape allegation.”
The Crown will call evidence from 13 witnesses. Prosecutor Dierdre Elsmore said the complainant was confused about the identity of the man who had intercourse with her, but she was not mistaken about what happened to her in the dark room. She was crying and trying to move away. The men stopped and left after she swore at them and called one of them an abusive name.
The complainant’s DVD recording of her tearful interview with the police was played in court and she gave her spoken evidence from behind a screen which meant she could not see the two accused in court.