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Victims’ bravery acknowledged in rape sentencing

Christchurch District Court

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A man has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for multiple sexual assaults
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Warning: This story discusses details of sexual assault.

A 27-year-old man has been sentenced in Christchurch District Court to 13-and-a-half years in prison for a series of sexual violence offences.

Leo Calder-Knight was sentenced on three charges of rape, one of indecent assault and four of unlawful sexual connection this afternoon.

The crimes took place over a decade, from 2010 to 2020, and involved three victims.

Two of the victims tearfully read impact statements to the court, in which both detailed their extensive and ongoing therapy to process the trauma of his offending.

One said “the damage that he did will be felt for the rest of my life”.

The victim said it had taken a lot of work to hold Calder-Knight accountable.

“I knew he was a danger to society…It became my responsibility to protect other people instead of his responsibility not to rape people,” they said.

The other also spoke of how Calder-Knight’s actions “still have an impact on every day of my life.”

“I had a fear of no consequences being given to him…e needs to face the consequences he deserves,” they told the court.

Judge Michael Crosbie said on more than one occasion he felt Calder-Knight’s offending was not just violent but cruel.

He believed it showed patterns of repeated behaviour, which included carrying out sexual acts while his victims were asleep or while their child was asleep in the same bed.

“The offender simply does not take no for an answer and felt he was entitled to have his partners take part in all his sexual desires,” Judge Crosbie detailed during sentencing.

He also acknowledged the bravery of the victims.

“[You’ve read] victim impact statements but you’re survivors… Hopefully at the other end of all of this, you’ll have your dignity, your strength and your life back.”

Judge Crosbie gave Calder-Knight a minimum no-parole period of six years, nine months.

Where to get help:

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 – push 0 at the menu

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334

Male Survivors Aotearoa

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) 022 344 0496

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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