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Actor accused of touching students

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/12/2016

"You are shy and just need to let go" a Kiwi actor told a woman after indecently touching her, she has claimed in court.

The man, whose name, age and ethnicity cannot be published, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of sexual violation and 10 charges of indecent assault.

The alleged offending took place between 2010 and 2013 against four adult, female acting students the man was teaching in one-on-one classes.

Prosecutors say the actor, who was employed to run group acting classes for aspiring models, separately called the four women aside telling them they had great potential.

He offered to provide one-on-one lessons to help further their careers where he then used teaching techniques that led to him indecently touching the women, the Crown said.

However, defence lawyer Ron Mansfield said the man never indecently touched the women and only engaged in professional teaching techniques.

He said the women, who were all known to each other, instead colluded with the help of others to exaggerate their claims of what happened because of a perceived slight against them.

He said one of the women also had a consensual affair with the man.

Speaking at the man's trial in front of a jury at Auckland District Court on Wednesday, the first woman to give evidence said she initially joined an acting and modelling agency after being approached on the

street.

She then spent around six months taking group acting classes with the agency under the direction of the actor, before agreeing to pay for private classes.

She said the one-on-one sessions in a small, locked office, always involved a technique, known as push me, pull me, in which she would respond to what the man did.

During one of these sessions, he surprised her by kissing her cheek, before, in later classes, the kissing became more intimate and eventually he lay her down and removed her pants.

In one incident prosecutors also allege, the actor pulled out his penis and pleaded with the woman to kiss it.

The woman said the actor ran successful group classes in which most people found him inspirational, including herself.

She continued to return to her private classes because he told her she was sexually inhibited and needed to overcome this to improve her acting.

She said she made it plain to him she was uncomfortable during these episodes, but that he would tell her she was making progress.

She said she would become anxious and nervous ahead of each private session.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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