'Moral obligation': Garner calls for Defence Force to cover assault victim's fees

Opinion 22/01/2019

Duncan Garner has echoed outrage over a sexual assault victim being ordered to pay her attacker's court fees.

"I find it not only appalling; it is the final insult for her. She shouldn't pay - I would tell the court to get stuffed," the host of The AM Show said on Tuesday.

Former Air Force servicewoman Mariya Taylor has been ordered to pay her attacker almost $28,000, which has angered Garner and a fellow victim.

She was just 18 when she started out at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), the air force component of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

The High Court admitted Ms Taylor was likely sexually assaulted by former RNZAF Sgt Robert Roper in the 1980s, including being locked in a cage, groped, ogled, and prodded with an iron bar.

But the court ruled that too much time has passed for Ms Taylor to make a compensation bid against Roper for mental harm, or the NZDF.  

Mariya Taylor has been ordered to pay her attacker.

Roper is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence.

Justice Edwards said there can be no dispute that Roper's conduct towards Ms Taylor was heinous, but that costs should "not be used as a backdoor means of granting relief to a plaintiff who failed to get their claim past the front door".

Roper's daughter Tracey Thompson, who Roper was convicted of raping, said the rationale given by Justice Edwards doesn't make sense, saying: "It's no wonder victims don't want to come forward these days".

Garner said Ms Taylor shouldn't have to pay for the court costs, and called on Defence Minister Ron Mark to step in: "It's time to make some noise and do something."

He said the NZDF has a "moral obligation, in my view, to put its hand into its deep taxpayer-funded pockets, pull out the money, and cover the legal costs of this person".

"The Defence Force proudly talks about how women are respected and how they can rise through the ranks, well here's your test: take the pressure off her."

The NZDF dropped its case against Ms Taylor, seeking legal costs, following public backlash.

Taylor is planning to appeal the case to the Court of Appeal. That could be heard in mid-2019.