New Zealand police face criticism in handling of Roast Busters teen sex ring case
VANCOUVER – The fury over the existence of a teen sex ring in New Zealand’s capital city seems to be matched only by the anger over how the police handled complaints from the alleged victims.
New Zealand’s police minister has asked for an independent inquiry into a case involving a group of young men who reportedly lured underage girls in to having sex or sexually assaulted them and then boasted about it online.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said the situation “has been handled poorly” in the days since news about the group of teen boys broke, who call themselves the Roast Busters, in local media on Sunday.
Two of the young men, who have been identified publicly by New Zealand media as Joseph Levall Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales, referred to the girls they allegedly had sex with as “roasts.”
One of them is said to be police officer’s son, while the other is the son of actor Anthony Ray Parker, who played the character Dozer in The Matrix.
In a video that had been posted online, the young men said “we don’t choose the roast, the roast chooses us.”
The Roast Busters have reportedly been on the police radar since 2011 and investigators have also been monitoring their Facebook group for several months.
Police initially said no action was taken because victims were reluctant to make a formal complaint.
Police Supt. Bill Searle told New Zealand’s 3 News there have been four complaints, but he said only one of those would be classified as “formal.”
He said there was some “disagreement about what a formal complaint is.”
All of the girls that previously spoke with police – three in 2011 and one in 2012 – were between the ages of 13 and 15 when they reported the incidents.
Website Stuff.co. nz reported Tolley was concerned about the questioning of a 13-year-old girl two years ago.
The girl alleged she was sexually assaulted, but police did not follow through with pressing charges saying they lacked evidence.
The girl, who could not be identified for legal reasons, told 3 News that police made her reenact what happened to her using dolls. She also said police questioned what she was wearing at the time of the alleged attack.
“They are sick boys who are twisted in the head. They have no respect for themselves or girls,” said the girl who is now 15. “If nothing gets done now, what are they capable of in the future?”
She said she has other friends who had been abused by the Roast Busters.
The girl said she planned to lay another complaint with the police and 3 News reported Thursday a second girl, who was 13 at the time of the alleged sexual assault, has also come forward and identified one of the boys as the son of a police officer.
Searle addressed concerns on Thursday morning and offered an apology.
He said investigators are speaking with people who are deemed “associates” of the Roast Busters or alleged victims of the group.
“We’re just going back to contact them to see whether they have been victimized,” he said.
The police minister said earlier this week she wants police to gather evidence to bring the group to “some form of trial,” but suggested online bragging isn’t tantamount to proof sexual assaults took place.
“Just saying something on Facebook doesn’t actually produce any evidence and without a victim prepared to give a statement, it’s extremely difficult,” Tolley said on Tuesday before she was aware that at least one “formal” complaint had been made, 3 News reported.
“I have made it clear to the commissioner that I am disappointed that the full facts have not been available to me or to him,” Tolley said Thursday.
“I would again urge any young women who have been affected to come forward and talk to police as a first step in gathering evidence which can be used to bring people to justice,” she said.
*With files from 3 News and Stuff
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