CONTENT WARNING: The following contains graphic and violent descriptions of sexual violence. If you feel distressed by this story, or if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual or domestic violence, you can speak to a friendly counsellor at 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Two New Zealand music identities have been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years’ jail after a jury found them guilty of raping an intoxicated woman in a hotel room.
Mark Arona, 40, and Peter John Chambers, 42, were found guilty by a Tauranga jury in October last year on one charge each of sexual violation by rape and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Chambers was found guilty of being the principal offender and Arona as a party to it by encouraging the offence.
Arona is head of the independent record label and entertainment company Illegal Musik and performs as MC Patriarch with the hip-hop act Ill Semantics. Chambers, according to the New Zealand Herald, teaches music and mentors artists and performs as DJ CXL.
The pair, who are well-known in NZ’s hip-hop scene, claimed they had consensual sex with the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, and they have maintained their innocence throughout the trial.
The jury didn’t see it that way, and it took just three hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts on all four charges.
Judge David Cameron handed down the sentence in Tauranga District Court with Arona and Chambers looking on via a video link from prison.
Giving evidence, the woman described an incident where she drank too much and took a drag from a cannabis joint, after which she blacked out. When she came too, she was naked in a Tauranga hotel room with a man sexually assaulting her, with the other man joining in. She told the court she felt “like ragdoll” and was powerless to defend herself and could not have consented having passed out.
According to court reports, the defense team painted a picture of the accuser as liar, who dressed inappropriately and had gone to gone to the hotel with the intention to have sex with the men. The accused were depicted as “highly respected”, particularly within the NZ hip-hop music community.
Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times after sentencing, the woman admitted she’ll now struggle to pick up the pieces of her life.
“Lots of people are feeling happy about the sentence these men received. But I just feel like a broken mess as, despite their denials, this still happened to me,” the woman said. “It’s something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”
Reps for Illegal Musik have yet to respond to the sentencing.