A very sad case played out in the Wanganui District Court yesterday; the Herald reports:
A woman who alleges she was kept as a sex slave and regularly raped - even as she endured a painful miscarriage - has won a legal battle to allow publication of her name so she can share her harrowing story.Sex victims are automatically granted permanent name suppression to protect their identities.But Heather Walsh successfully argued for her name to be published, saying she wanted the world to know her story.Farmer William Paul Cornelius, 79, lost his bid for name suppression after a final hearing in the Wanganui District Court yesterday.He first appeared in court in 2009, and was facing a total of 14 charges representing numerous rapes, unlawful sexual connection and abduction.After 25 hearings Cornelius was deemed unfit to stand trial as he had developed mild dementia. Yesterday, Judge David Cameron stayed all charges but after viewing all the evidence, concluded that using the civil test for liability Cornelius was probably a rapist.However, as he was not fit to stand trial, he was not convicted on any of the charges.
It's very easy to be critical of our judiciary. But on this occasion, we reckon that Judge David Cameron has managed the rare quality of tempering justice with mercy. By ruling that Cornelius was "probably a rapist" on the basis of evidence before him, he has vindicated the complainants.
At the same time Judge Cameron has avoided a lengthy and traumatic trial, where the complainants would have had to relive their ordeals at the hands of William Cornelius. Cornelius is clearly unwell, and suffering from dementia is unlikely to get any less unwell than he currently is. Is there any point in trying and imprisoning a demented man?
Our thoughts and prayers are with the complainants in the tragic case. May they take comfort from their vindication, and may they be able to recover from the indecencies committed against them.