'Mariya is devastated': Assault victim ordered to pay attacker $28k

The lawyer of a sexual assault victim who has been ordered to pay her attacker's court fees says her client is "devastated". 

The Auckland High Court found Geraldine Whiteford's client, former Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) servicewoman Mariya Taylor, was likely sexually assaulted by former RNZAF Sgt Robert Roper in the 1980s. 

She was locked in a cage, groped, ogled, and prodded with an iron bar.

The court also ruled that too much time has passed for Ms Taylor to make a compensation bid against Roper for mental harm, or his employer the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). 

Now she has to pay almost $28,000 in court costs for Roper, who is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence, having been found guilty of 20 counts of sexual offending in 2015.  

"Mariya is devastated and feels she's been re-victimised, and in effect she's been re-traumatised," Ms Whiteford told Magic Talk on Tuesday. 

Justice Rebecca 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".

The judge used her judicial discretion to reduce the amount that Ms Taylor had to pay, Ms Whiteford said, but she believes Justice Edwards could have gone further. 

"The judge has applied the High Court rules on costs but the result of that is a very damaging precedent for other victims of abuse, because the judge did find that most of the behaviour complained of happened," Ms Whiteford said. 

She revealed that Ms Taylor was offered a deal by the RNZAF "about eight or nine days before the actual hearing", to pay her "more than $28,000". 

"There was an offer made by the RNZAF but it was too low and too late. [Ms Taylor] couldn't take it because she's seeking compensation and the issue we're facing with the current judgement is one of costs."

Ms Whiteford said her client could have used the criminal justice system instead of civil in her pursuit, but "chose not to because she was really aggrieved at the conduct of the Defence Force, Roper's employers, in not taking adequate steps to protect her". 

She said she would be surprised if Ms Taylor was offered another deal, because she's appealing the court's decision, and the RNZAF "may prefer to await the outcome". 

Roper's daughter Tracey Thompson, who Roper was convicted of raping, said the rationale given by Justice Edwards doesn't make sense. 

"It's no wonder victims don't want to come forward these days".