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The identity of an “award winning Kiwi entertainer” charged with sex offences against four women is being suppressed because a judge believes there is no public interest in the case.
The man, in his 40s, appeared in Auckland District Court in November where he pleaded not guilty to four counts of indecent assault and two of sexual violation.
The latter charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in jail.
Judge Russell Collins today declined applications to photograph the defendant at his upcoming appearance, stating there was “no public interest … at this time in proceedings”.
He will appear in court next week when it is understood his defence counsel will apply to have his name suppression extended.
It is believed the Crown will oppose that application.
According to charge sheets, the incidents took place between 2010 and 2013 in Auckland…source
The charges included four counts of indecent assault and two of sexual violation.
Reports in November of last year stated the accused was 45 years old, the offending took place over a three year period from 2010 to 2013 and the victims were four adult women.
The alleged offences committed by the married man “occurred in the context of acting lessons”, according to a statement made to the court on 28 January 2016. The name of a business relating to a person connected to the case has been suppressed.
The case caused a lot of interest in New Zealand, with much speculation as to the man’s identity. People immediately launched into Google and IMDb searches for 45 year old Kiwi actors who’d received awards – there aren’t many of them – with speculation that the man was involved with a long-running New Zealand drama series with an international audience.
As is so often the case in New Zealand, people in the public eye who have been charged with crimes have their identities suppressed, sometimes after conviction, so as to not damage their reputation and bring their industry (usually sport, politics or entertainment) into disrepute. This has given rise to suggestions that New Zealand has a two tier justice system that looks favorably on offenders who need to travel abroad to work (no doubt aware that many countries now refuse entry to criminal offenders).
Another NZ Actor Charged with Assault in Texas
Edit: This is categorically NOT the actor involved in the above name suppression case. Manu Bennett is not an ‘award winning Kiwi entertainer’. We must stress we do NOT know who the alleged offender is.
By way of comparison, another Kiwi actor was recently charged with assault in Texas but his details were made public. The US obviously isn’t as hung up on reputation as New Zealand is.
Coincidentally this Kiwi actor is also 45 years old. Manu Bennett appeared in the Hobbit trilogy (as the character Azog) and the T.V. series Arrow (Deathstroke) was charged with assault after a man was punched in the face at the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Antonio. Bennett also appeared in the long-running New Zealand drama Shortland Street and the gladiator Crixus in Spartacus
In an interview given in 2013 Bennett said
“In 2000, I was cast as Marc Antony in Xena and, frustrated with the rubber swords, I just said to the stunt guys: ‘Let’s just hit each other’. The nurse on set kept yelling: ‘Stop, stop’. Somehow that story got back to Rob and so now I get this call from him saying: ‘We really like your performance, but listen, before I offer you the role, I have to know one thing – that you’re not going to hurt Andy Whitfield’.
”I didn’t hold that promise,” Bennett laughs. ”Look, to me Spartacus is about fighting and so a lot of scenes are going to involve close-to-reality expression.
It was reported by The Newcastle Herald that the the man allegedly attacked by Manu had made remarks about Karin Horen, the mother of the actor’s three children, and her battle with cancer.
Underbelly actor Matt Nable claimed to have witnessed the incident, telling the Herald that ‘[Bennett] was very, very offended about what the man had said to him.’
‘What he did was out of character but he was obviously very offended by it,’ added Matt, referring to the alleged insult thrown at Manu before the altercation.
Bennett appeared as a gladiator in the TV series Spartacus and played characters in Arrow and the MTV miniseries The Shannara Chronicles.
Bennett later went on to appear in the Shannara Chronicles (filmed in NZ) which started worldwide screening on 6 January 2016.