We can’t let the Roastbuster case slip away

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Those of us (like me) left with hope that the police would aggressively follow through on the large amount of evidence on offer to them (let’s not forget they forgot they even had some at one point) in the Roastbusters case haven’t exactly had that hope encouraged with the latest update  on where the investigation is at this weekend.

“Gathering information”.

This worries me. A year on from the media expose, 3 years since the police first received complaints in 2011, we’re still at ‘gathering information’. I acknowledge how much evidence it takes to get a successful prosecution, and I’m not going to suggest that they just gather up what they have and throw it at the courts knowing it will lose. What I’m worried about is – how hard are they working on this, really?

The obvious handicap of this renewed investigation is that it was pushed into action due to media coverage and public outrage. Distrust was there right from the very beginning, and belief in the police by victims was low. What I hoped the police would take from our revulsion is that they needed to chase this as aggressively as they would say… a serial rapist who breaks into stranger’s homes. But it feels like whether the police really pull out the stops depends on whether it’s a 13 year old raped while sleeping in her own bed, or a 13 year old raped while sleeping in a rapists bed.

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Yes – it really feels like it comes down to that.

Stranger, her bed? Rape. Know him, his bed? Hmmmm. Underage? Stupified? Still hmmmm.

Do these victims – some of whom sadly had photographic and video proof of their assaults, deserve to feel disillusioned, mucked around, not communicated with, and become so hopeless that they understandably give up?

Do they deserve to go without justice? Do we as a country who care want the end result to be a statement saying ‘we couldn’t go any further because the complainants decided not to lay charges’ and this whole sadistic disgusting objectifying disgrace dissolving to nothing, despite our collective demands for change?

Hell. No.

Does the current court & justice system make things difficult to get to prosecution? Yes it does. Am I at least glad that police want to get this to court successfully? Yes. The issues here are timeliness (the strain of waiting years for justice is immense) and the importance of continual constructive communication with victims (6 months?! After intensive demands for info from them?!). What the police risk is that every victim will decide to move on and the case is sunk – not due to lack of cooperation, knowledge of the offenders identity or evidence – but due to disillusionment and a craving for closure on this nightmare, which is so very understandable.

The Minister of Police’s spokeswoman says the NZ Police have poured significant resources into this investigation, and that it’s a priority. I would like to find out a few facts around that – facts I think the NZ public and particularly victims of the Roastbusters deserve to know. So I’m lodging an OIA request with the NZ Police. I want to know how many staff have been assigned to this case – from the beginning of the investigation to now. I want to know how many hours they have clocked up working on it, and how many hours & staff are resourced currently. And I want to know if there is an assigned staff member who is tasked with regularly liaising with the complainants.

I hope this information will reassure us all that the NZ Police are galvanised to bring this, indeed complex case, to justice. I really do.

13 COMMENTS

  1. This case just highlights myths and attitudes towards sexual abuse and disclosure. The lack of action on the NZ Police’s part in terms of the investigation and any charges being laid just reinforces negative schemas that victims have regarding disclosure of sexual abuse and being believed, or that the abuse was somehow their own fault.

    Did New Zealand learn nothing from the Louise Nicholas case?

    • I can’t think of a more appalling example of all that is wrong beneath the “friendly, relaxed” appearance of the values espoused by this government

  2. Thank you very much for the OIA Rachael. Almost a year on and it seems more like stalling than information gathering.

  3. Good article. We have seen more of this type of behaviour eg Canterbury Uni and a recent slut shaming page. As far as I know no police action has been taken and it took Facebook a long time to take the pages down when complaints were made. As far as I’m aware they were at a lower level of predatory behaviour but I think it shows that people think this sort of thing is OK. It sure isn’t.

  4. Key refused to apologise to a victim of attempted sexual assault, and MFAT stuffed things up. That shows perfectly how “relaxed” he is about such things.

    But he got mighty huffy when a boy band of rappers sang some sexist lyrics about his own daughter,

    Yeah, good on you mate. Relaxed except when it’s your own eh?

  5. The burden of proof is rightly set quite high in criminal cases, but I despair at the length of time this is taking. At the same time I don’t see what this has to do with the Government, past or present. This is a matter between the Police and the criminal justice system, a system that has remained largely unchanged for many years, and that generally serves us very well. Let them do their work, and hope that there is indeed evidence of a case to answer.

    • I agree with what you are saying Nehemia but I think the point is even for the system it’s taking an abnormally long time. Unfortuntely one of the offender’s father is a police officer and that may very well part of the reason for delay.

    • The criminal justice system has not served the women of New Zealand well in cases of sexual and domestic violence, on the whole. I am sure there are a few notable exceptions, but I am sure I am not alone in not trusting the NZ police or justice system enough to ever be willing to report a sexual crime.

      The government can and does have influence on the NZ police. They are willing to get the police to investigate a claim of taping a conversation of John Key, to raid Nicky Hagars home, but not to arrest the roastbuster boys.

      • The ‘Government’ didn’t get the police to raid Nicky Hagers house, or to investigate the taping of Key’s conversation. These resulted from complaints from individuals, not the Government. I don’t think those sorts of claims help your argument.

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