Kamo lion park director Dale Vallance jailed for indecent assaults
The former manager of a wildlife sanctuary has been jailed for indecently assaulting five women, one of whom says she will "never be the same person" as a result of what he did to her.
Victim impact statements were read out today that described the post-traumatic stress disorder, guilt and anxiety experienced after the assaults by Dale Vallance, former director of the Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary in Northland.
The 64-year-old was found guilty on 10 counts of indecent assault ranging from touching the women's waists, thighs, breasts and crotches after a two-week jury trial before Judge Gene Tomlinson at the Whangārei District Court in May.
One victim said she had "lost her spark" and was constantly worried about the position of her body around men and had an unrealistic fear of criticism. Another said Vallance claimed to treat her as part of their family.
"If they saw me as part of their family as they say they did, they crossed that line. I have been emotionally burdened by this," she said in a statement read out by an officer in charge of the case.
The lead victim of the most serious assault said she had to quit her job of five years, losing her main source of income, and had since experienced several unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Crown prosecutor Geraldine Kelly said that, for this victim, the offending was particularly aggravating as Vallance sought her out at her workplace and indecently assaulted her by grabbing her crotch in the car park as she helped him load a box into his ute.
"The guilt and blame I feel after having this happen to me is immense. I now sleep too much, overeat and I have lost my desire to do things I loved.
"It has been a slow and painful process trying to rebuild myself and I do not want anyone else to have to go through this. The damage has already been done ... I will never be the person I was before this incident," her statement read.
All five victims gave evidence that Vallance had touched them inappropriately, without consent, and made various crude comments about their bodies.
Kelly said Vallance was three times older than some of the victims and they were subjected to indecent assaults by a man the age of their grandfathers.
"We saw in court when he laughs it off as 'that's just him', well that's just not good enough," Kelly said.
"He pushed the limits of his behaviour."
Vallance's lawyer Jared Scott said his client had several medical issues and a term of imprisonment would be difficult.
Judge Tomlinson agreed with the Crown on the profound long-lasting impacts the offending had on the victims who had to give evidence at trial.
"I commend all the women who gave evidence at trial. Giving evidence and the impact of trial is hard," Judge Tomlinson said.
He told Vallance: "Your behaviour crushed their dreams, the impact is always unappreciated by the offender and minimised.
"Your behaviour is not OK. It is not funny. It is harmful."
He gave Vallance a small discount for his health issues and sentenced him to two years and nine months' imprisonment.
* This story was first published in the New Zealand Herald.