NZDF servicewoman claims ‘lack of support’ after guilty plea

Source: 1News

A New Zealand Defence Force servicewoman has hit back at the NZDF after pleading guilty to drug use and assault, claiming she herself was assaulted while in the NZDF.

New Zealand Defence Force.

Leading Aircraftman Nicole Leger pleaded guilty to taking a Class B drug and assaulting a female comrade in 2020, but accused the NZDF of being a workplace where “the reputation of the organization is far more important than the people it serves” .

Appearing in a court martial via video link on Monday, the 35-year-old was found guilty of the offending which took place at a Stokes Valley flat party in June 2020.

Prosecutor Lieutenant Ty Hart told the court martial on the night of the offending, Leger was offered a drink. When she’d consumed part of the drink, she was informed it contained MDMA, but she continued to drink it.

Later in the evening, a fellow female comrade informed Leger she was tired and asked to lie down in Leger’s room. Leger later entered the room, touching the victim’s arm, face, and saying to the woman, “your lips”.

In a statement read for her, the victim said her message came from a place of forgiveness, but that Leger’s actions had caused pain “not only to [her], but to [her] husband and whānau”.

The victim’s name is suppressed.

The court martial also heard a statement from Leger detailing an incident which occurred several months prior to her offending, where she says an NZDF sergeant - who has name suppression - touched her inner thigh twice when she was a sober driver for an event.

Leger claimed the incident was treated differently, and she received a “lack of support” from the Defence Force.

Chief Judge Kevin Riordan said he would be seeking an explanation from the Chief of Defence around the claims, and her statement “had not gone unnoticed”.

In relation to the offending in June 2020, the Chief Judge acknowledged Leger’s actions were on the less severe end for the nature of the offences.

While a starting point of dismissal was considered, the judge noted this was the second most serious punishment a court martial could hand out. Leger was instead sentenced to a severe reprimand for the two offences.