Business owner jailed for attempted rape of employee

Published date31 January 2023
Publication titleOtago Daily Times: Web Edition Articles (New Zealand)
The owner of a painting business repeatedly smacked the bottom of one of his young female employees and told another "one day I will get you" before plying her with vodka and attempting to rape her during a work trip

Gerald Mark Diver's victims said his unwanted sexual behaviour towards them became "normal" and it was often passed off by him as "workplace banter".

But on Monday, the 53-year-old owner of Gerald Diver Painter & Decorator appeared for sentence in Christchurch District Court, after the two women revealed his offending and brought to an end his workplace harassment.

The first former employee, referred to in court as victim A, said she had become "numb and immune" to Diver slapping her bottom. After experiencing the assault almost daily for several years, it became normal behaviour, she said.

He would also make comments to her such as "you're looking good today".

The woman felt "unworthy and belittled". Diver paid her minimum wage and told her she wasn't worth more, despite her being a qualified painter. She eventually resigned.

"I changed from being confident and social to being submissive and anti-social," she said in her victim impact statement.

As she began to believe Diver's treatment of her was standard, other men started disrespecting her, too.

She didn't speak up about the assaults while employed by him as she feared her voice would not be heard over that of her boss'.

Victim B told the court she was once a "strong, jovial and happy painter" who was handpicked by Diver to work for his company.

But he would later sack her after she confronted him about attempting to rape her.

After losing her job, the woman moved back in with her parents as she could no longer afford to pay rent.

She was left suicidal, "humiliated, unworthy of connection and disgusted".

The experience lingered in her new relationships, making it difficult for her to trust. Panic attacks and "flashbacks" became a common occurrence and she missed out on celebrating milestones with her loved ones.

"Gerald Diver deserves to feel the full force of the justice system given the offence of the crimes he inflicted on me and his other victims," she said in her victim impact statement.

Diver had once been overheard by victim A telling victim B "I will sleep with you one day"..."one day I will get you".

That traumatic day came for victim B in September 2020 when she and Diver travelled north of Christchurch for an overnight work trip. They were staying in a shared motel unit with...

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