15 Mar 2017

Man jailed for illicitly filming sexual encounters

4:21 pm on 15 March 2017

A man who threatened to post online images of a woman whom he had been paying for sex has been jailed for seven years.

Warning: This story includes sexual violence and attempted suicide.

German national Stefan Benatzky, 38, was also sentenced in the Wellington District Court on a charge of sexual violation.

A jury had earlier found him guilty of that charge, two of making intimate visual recordings and two of posting harmful digital communications.

Benatzky and his victim had a commercial arrangement whereby he paid her for sex, but Judge Denys Barry said it all went wrong on the last time they met in August 2015.

The defendant took the woman to Wellington's south coast where they had consensual sex in the back of his vehicle, but she resisted when he tied her up and tried to have anal sex with her.

Benatzky persisted in what Judge Barry described as an "unwanted, injurious and painful rape".

In March last year the defendant messaged the woman on Facebook saying he had pictures and videos he'd taken of her during sexual encounters.

The victim asked him to delete them and he said he wanted to meet her so she could delete them herself.

Judge Barry said that did not happen but the defendant later messaged her saying he would give the images away and asked if she wanted a copy.

"He sent her a photo of her sitting unclothed on a toilet. She then received another Facebook message from him threatening to posts images in cyberspace.

"[During a] subsequent exchange he sent a video taken inside his vehicle [of] a sexual encounter taking place and in the aftermath of that."

The judge said there was an element of degradation and humiliation in the images and posting them to the woman and he instilled fear into her by threatening to post the images publicly.

Woman attempted suicide after threats

In a victim impact statement, the woman said Benatzky's actions left her feeling sad, scared, hurt, violated, humiliated and embarrassed.

She said she attempted suicide and spent two days on life support and a further week in hospital.

"It took a long time for me to want to meet new people and trust them. For a year I was reluctant to leave the house alone and I felt I couldn't trust anyone.

"I still feel it's partly my own fault - I'd put myself into that situation and I was too embarrassed to talk about what happened."

The defence lawyer, Kevin Smith, said his client would find it hard to complete a prison sentence as he has no support at all in New Zealand.

Judge Barry said a pre-sentence report showed Benatzky continued to deny his offending.

He said the defendant had two children with a Japanese woman, but she has since returned to her homeland taking their sons with her and she was unlikely to return to New Zealand.

"The report makes the point he may never be able to undertake an active role in parenting the children because of possible immigration restrictions to Japan with convictions of this nature.

"He said he was sorry about everything that had happened for everyone involved, with the rider that he cast the victim as destroying his life."

Where to get help relating to suicide and mental health:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (24/7)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who might be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Healthline: 0800 611 116

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

Support for victims of sexual violence:

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

HELP (Auckland): 09 623 1700