Man left 'shaken' after encounter with NZ businessman - court told

The trial began on Thursday in the Auckland High Court.
The trial began on Thursday in the Auckland High Court. Photo credit: Getty

On the second day of a trial involving a wealthy businessman, one witness described being left shaken, claiming the man thrust his hands down his pants, and grabbed his genitals.

The New Zealand businessman denies indecently assaulting three men on separate occasions in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016, and making two attempts to dissuade a witness.

Another man on trial also denies trying to dissuade a witness.

Both men have name suppression in the jury trial that began on Thursday in the High Court in Auckland, with Justice Geoffrey Venning presiding.

One witness on Friday said he went to the businessman's house in the early 2000s to discuss a charity deal but unexpectedly found he was the only guest.

After dinner, the businessman asked him if he wanted to cuddle.

The man said when he declined the offer he was asked, "What's wrong with a cuddle? We'll just lie on the bed, you know, on the top of the bed and have a cuddle," he was told.

The man said he responded by saying "no".

"It's not just a cuddle, cuddles go somewhere," he said.

The man said he was then grabbed by the businessman, again being asked to cuddle.

He said he felt really uncomfortable and unsafe, and decided to leave.

The man said at this point he "just wanted to get out," he said.

When the man left the house, he alleged the businessman thrust his hands down his pants, grabbing on to his genitals while the man tried to wrestle free.

The man said it hurt and he was left "shocked" and "very shaken".

He told the court he did not tell anyone what happened for many years.

"Part of me was processing it. Part of me was embarrassed that I'd managed to get myself into this situation where I was alone in a house and got attacked. Perhaps embarrassed that I hadn't fought hard enough," he said.

He said he did not want to appear weak for getting into that position.

The man said he decided to go to the police in 2019, inspired by the #MeToo movement.

"I had to, I just felt I needed to," he said.

"This is literally my MeToo movement," the man said.

However, the businessman's lawyer David Jones told the jury they needed to keep an open mind, and asked them to question if the witness's accounts were credible.

During cross examination, Jones asked the complainant whether he was "dramatising" his account.

"No, I'm just providing my story in interesting language, I mean I'm verbalising how I felt," the complainant replied.

The trial before a jury of nine women and three men is expected to take five weeks.