Repeat rapist: ‘I’m not a bad guy’
This story is about rape. It may be confronting or upsetting - please take care.
A WOMAN raped at a party when she was a teenager lived in terror for more than two years as police tried to identify her attacker.
Together the young women braved a lengthy trial process to bring rapist Joseph James Ennis to justice.
On April 11 this year Ennis, a 25-year-old Auckland builder, was sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison for rape.
In September 2013 the victim, then aged 17, went to a party at a friend's house.
Ennis was also there.
The victim drank alcohol and became intoxicated.
She then told her friends she wanted to go to bed.
Ennis escorted her to a mattress set up in the laundry area of the house.
She lay down and went to sleep and woke up later to find Ennis raping her.
He had ripped her shorts off so forcibly that the button was torn off.
But because she was so drunk she did not know who was violating her.
A court would later hear that the victim was "quite obviously unconscious or semiconscious" and "could not resist" Ennis because "she was incapable of doing so".
"She was coming in and out of consciousness and had no motor skills … there was no positive act by (her) by word or conduct to suggest that she had consented to anything you did," Judge Robert Ronayne said at sentencing this year.
Her attacker gave the name of another teenager at the party.
After the rape Ennis went back to the party.
The victim was found soon after by her friends "bawling and sobbing" and extremely distressed.
She went to police and told them what had happened, giving the name of the teenager Ennis had used during the rape.
The victim underwent a forensic medical examination and DNA swabs were taken - her attacker had left evidence of the rape.
When he was first interviewed the day after the rape Ennis maintained he had simply helped the victim to bed and that nothing happened.
He also told police he had seen the other male teenager with the victim - something Judge Robert Ronayne was a "continuation" of Ennis' "cynical and devious attempt" to blame the youth for the rape.
Police interviewed the teen named by Ennis and he denied any involvement.
A voluntary DNA sample soon eliminated him from the inquiry.
Police then honed in on Ennis - who had been seen by a number of partygoers leading the victim away from the party.
They wanted to interview him again but Ennis went to ground and police could not locate him for more than two years.
When they finally tracked him down they had a court order compelling him to give a DNA sample.
In February 2016 police confirmed Ennis' DNA matched the evidence found on the victim.
He was charged with rape and put before the courts. Again.
He continued to deny it - this time admitting he'd had sex with the teenager, but that it was consensual.
In February 2018 Ennis - after a number of delays - went on trial in the Auckland District Court.
At trial it was revealed that Ennis had also been charged with rape in 2013.
The case was thrown out of court and Ennis was never convicted.
Judge Ronayne said he accepted the victim's account and was satisfied the crime had been committed.
The Crown was permitted to call the earlier victim in that matter to give propensity evidence - meaning they could tell the jury about the earlier charge.
Jurors are not usually given information about the previous criminal offending of a person on trial, but in Ennis' case the Crown argued it was necessary, that it showed his propensity to act in a particular way.
The jury heard that the victim of the 2010 attack was eight years old when Ennis allegedly raped her.
THE FIRST RAPE
She was a friend of his family and was playing at his house when he invited her into his bedroom and told her to get on his bed.
She alleged he took off her shorts and raped her.
Afterwards the little girl ran home crying and told her mother that Ennis had "kissed" her.
"I was eight, I didn't know what (rape) was, I didn't know how to word it and the only thing that I could relate it to at the time was I had seen adults on TV kissing," said the complainant, now an adult.
"That's the only sexual thing that I could relate to, so that's what I told her.
"I'd never had the sex talk so I didn't know the words for (what happened)."
Three years later the girl told a school friend what had happened and the information was passed on to a teacher.
As a result, police were called in and the girl was interviewed.
Five months later, in late 2010, Ennis was charged with rape.
But the matter was dismissed after the defence applied for a stay of proceedings.
His right to a fair trial was also affected by the delay between police interviewing the girl and charging Ennis.
The delay meant Ennis' case could not be heard in the Youth Court - which carries less stringent sentencing options than the District Court.
RAPIST'S ACCOUNT IN COURT 'FICTIONAL'
At his trial and in interviews for pre-sentence reports Ennis denied both rapes.
He maintained he had consensual sex with the 2013 victim.
"We were both having a good time," he said.
"I felt pretty good about it … I wanted to and I thought she was into it as well.
"I believed she was consenting … I didn't rape her.
"I wouldn't have done it if she was passed out … where's the enjoyment in that?
Ennis admitted lying to police about the other male but denied he had done so to set the youth up.
"It was a silly thing to do, to lie to the police," Ennis said.
"Everyone was angry, I was scared, I'm not a bad guy."
After hearing the evidence against Ennis the jury took just 25 minutes to reach a verdict.
He was guilty.
The victim was called and told - the day before her 22nd birthday.
She spoke to the Herald after sentencing about her relief and why, despite the time it took to get justice, she didn't give up.
She said that her case was a good example of why victims should always disclose sexual attacks.
"Just having it on record could help another person, even if it doesn't go to court," she said.
"I couldn't have gotten this verdict without (the earlier victim)."
She said before the rape she was a bubbly, social and outgoing teenager.
After Ennis violated her - that life disintegrated.
She said the hardest thing to deal with was not knowing who her rapist was.
There were a number of males at the party, many of them her friends, and she had no idea who had attacked her.
"Because I didn't know who he was I became suspicious of every single man that I saw.
"I was always thinking 'it could be him' because I had no idea and that was absolutely terrifying.
"It affected my relationships, I couldn't trust anyone.
The victim said she never set out to get Ennis sent to prison but she did want justice.
"I wasn't out to get him - I just wanted to know who it was - the verdict was a bonus," she said.
"I don't think 'yes! He's in jail'. I would have been quite happy if he got a slap on the wrist and sent home.
"I'm grateful he's in jail, he needs to be in jail, but I didn't expect that.
"I got way more than I ever expected."
When she found out there was another victim whose case had never made it to trial, she was even more motivated to do what she could to protect other women from Ennis.
"I did it for her … I made sure I did everything I could for the other girl, I didn't care about myself."
The victim wanted her story to empower other women to come forward and take their own control back.
"I don't want sympathy, I don't want to be a victim, I want to be empowered, and empowering," she explained.
"I want people to look at me as someone who fights for what's right, who fights for others.
"I want people to feel safe to talk about this stuff.
"Even if I help one person, then I'm happy."
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence, support is available at 1800 RESPECT.