Fear of public persecution a key deterrent for victims of sexual offences

By Te Ao Māori News

Fear of public persecution was identified as one of the reasons many girls declined to proceed further with involvement in the Operation Clover investigation into the group known as the Roast Busters.

Police announced yesterday after a 12-month enquiry that they will not be pursuing charges in relation to alleged offences of the group.

According to the Officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, there were a range of factors contributing to Police deciding not to press charges, which included,  “the evidential test as required by the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines which state that there must be a reasonable prospect of conviction for police to initiate a prosecution. Other factors included the wishes of the victims, the admissible evidence, the nature of the offending and the age of the parties at the time of the offending.”

The group of West Auckland teenagers who called themselves ‘The Roast Busters’ were lunged into the media spotlight last year after posting videos of themselves online bragging about having sex with drunk girls, some of whom were underage.

The group also named some of the girls in their online videos criticising, degrading and making fun of them.

According to the Operation Clover report, 110 girls were canvassed in the investigation, 44 were re-approached for clarification, 25 were invited to provide formal statements and only 5 of those girls actually made formal statements.

The Operation Clover report identified three key reasons for girls not wanting to proceed with involvement in the investigation which included the view that young people have of ‘consent’ and their perceived culpability in consenting to some of the activity, informally disclosed. Others did not wish to be subject to the prosecution process or give evidence in court.

Another point highlighted in the report was an overriding concern raised by the girls and their parents/ caregivers. That was the fear of bullying and harassment by their peers as well as the fear of being exposed in the media. There was sufficient information available that confirmed those fears as reality. Such a reality was not going to be ignored by these girls parents/caregivers when making decisions in regard to providing formal statements.

Police say they will investigate any new complaints that surface in regards to the group.

Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus told reporters that the challenges presented in this case are common challenges faced by Police in investigations of this nature.