National | Child abuse

Wahine praised for confronting child abuser

Two young women have been acknowledged by a judge for their bravery in standing up to the man who abused them.

“I am a strong wahine toa,” a sexual abuse survivor told the man who had taken away her innocence. “You do not have any power over me any more.”

Brendon Rimene was supposed to be a man the two girls trusted but he sexually abused them from a young age for several years.

Rimene was today sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment on two representative charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection for abusing the girls, both under the age of 12 at the time of the offending.

He was also sentenced on one representative charge of sexual violation by rape of one of the two survivors.

Both have permanent name suppression to protect their identities, which includes details that could identify them.

As Judge Noel Sainsbury sentenced Rimene in the Wellington District Court today, he briefly mentioned the details of the offending, which he described as a repeating pattern.

Rimene was found guilty of the charges following a jury trial last month.

One survivor said Rimene had damaged her ability to trust and had taken away the “one thing” that was her choice to give away.

“I will have to live with the loss of my innocence for the rest of my life,” she said.

The second survivor spoke about the significant mental health toll Rimene’s abuse has had on her, as she seeks counselling and lives with PTSD and suicidal ideations, among other mental struggles.

She said she didn’t know what Rimene was doing was wrong, and it was only until she was at school and learnt about appropriate and inappropriate touching, she understood the gravity of what happened.

“That was a weight no child should have to carry at that age,” she said. “I now have regular counselling to deal with the trauma you inflicted on me.”

Although both girls spoke about the impact Rimene’s abuse had, they vowed to not let it define their future.

“I have a bright future and there is so much hope for me. I will not let what you have done to me define me, my name, my whānau or my future,” one said.

Judge Sainsbury repeatedly acknowledged the strength of both survivors, bringing the charges against a man they trusted, going through the trial process and today standing before him with their statements.

“They really speak more eloquently than anything [on] just how much harm you have done and why this is so wrong,” Judge Sainsbury said.

“What incredible strength you have both shown... I thank you for that courage.”

Judge Sainsbury condemned Rimene, saying instead of being a person they could trust, he used that relationship to abuse them.

“It’s a breach of one of the most fundamental human relationships we have,” he said. “To sexually abuse someone for your own gratification is a gross breach of that.”

Rimene was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, with no discounts to his “substantial time” behind bars.

When Judge Sainsbury handed down his sentence, Rimene left the dock and stood in the courtroom while guards attempted to usher him along.

Eventually, when Rimeme was escorted out, Judge Sainsbury took the opportunity to thank the girls one last time.

“Thank you for coming forward, I understand how difficult that can be,” he said. “You can come through this and I hope sooner or later you are able to heal and get on with your life.”

Sexual harmWhere to get help:If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111. If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7 Call 0800 044 334 Text 4334 Email For more info or to web chat visit Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.

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