NZDF should say if it isn't pursuing assault victim - RSA

If the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) isn't pursuing costs against a sexual assault victim, it should say so, according to the RSA.

Mariya Taylor suffered assault and abuse at the hands of former Air Force (RNZAF) sergeant Robert Roper in the 1980s, including being locked in a tyre cage, prodded with an iron bar, and rubbed against and groped during car rides.

But her case can't be heard because the statute of limitations has run out, and now the NZDF and Roper are seeking court costs of more than $200,000 from her.

Roper is currently behind bars for sexual assault and rape, including offences committed against his own daughters.

RSA spokesperson Mark Compain told The AM Show on Friday the NZDF hasn't actually said it is seeking costs from Ms Taylor.

"Because the matter is still before the courts, they feel they are unable to comment further. I guess that's a matter for Defence to take up and consider when we think about the impact this is having on Mariya and her family."

The NZDF is refusing to comment while the matter is before the courts. Mr Compain says by staying quiet, the NZDF is putting Operation Respect - an effort to improve its treatment of its female personnel - at serious risk.

"We can't argue with the finer points of the law, but we believe the spirit and the intent of not wanting to make a victim suffer, a way can be found to prevent that."

Mariya Taylor in the 1980s.
Mariya Taylor in the 1980s. Photo credit: Supplied

As for Roper's claim, Mr Compain says "no criminal should profit from their behaviour".

"We don't think that's quite appropriate. We're also concerned that people who are coming forward - or may want to come forward - will feel that the process is not safe, if these kinds of costs are pursued as they seek justice and fairness through the courts."

The RSA, which provides support for ex-service personnel, has written to the Chief of Defence Force outlining its "great concern".

"There is actually no question of Mariya being a victim, and any further pursuit by Defence or any other Crown agency or individual would just re-victimise her, when there is no question over the criminal's guilt," said Mr Compain.

If you have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, you could call the HELP support service.

Other places to find help and support: