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Roast Busters' victims need space to come forward - Nicholas

Published: 10:49AM Tuesday November 05, 2013 Source: ONE News

The media needs to step back in order for victims of the 'Roast Busters' group to come forward and speak to police, rape counsellor Louise Nicholas says.

The group of young men who called themselves the Roast Busters used Facebook to brag about their sexual experiences with underage girls, allegedly after plying them with alcohol.

The Facebook page was used to name dozens of victims, some as young as 13, since 2011, but was not taken down until Sunday.

Louise Nicholas told ONE News that the girls who have been targeted are under a lot of pressure.

"Don't expect these girls to come out through the media," she said.

"They're having a hard enough time dealing with everything. Not just what happened to them, but with their peers, the social media, media in general. Give them some space.

"Let's step back and give the girls and their families some breathing space and let's see what the police can do."

Police Minister Anne Tolley this afternoon said she had been assured by the Police Commissioner that police have done everything possible to take the young men to trial, but without the statement of a victim, it's "extremely difficult" to prosecute.

"I've been assured by the commissioner they've done everything they possibly can to get evidence ... enough evidence to bring these men to some sort of trial," she said.

"But just saying something on Facebook doesn't actually produce any evidence."

Ms Tolley urged victims of the group to come forward.

"It's a very difficult thing for young women to come forward and talk about what's happened to them. It's embarrassing, it's frightening and the legal system itself can be overwhelming.

"I think we just have to continue to urge them and their families to get the courage to come forward so the police can take a case against these young men."

Ms Nicholas agreed the police seemed to be doing all they could, but their hands were tied without a survivor's statement.

"The police aren't sitting on their laurels at all on this, you can guarantee that," she said.

Roast Buster police officer's son

Meanwhile police have hit back at suggestions that the inquiry into the group has been affected by the fact that one of the boys involved is an officer's son.

"The boy in question has been spoken to, he had some interaction with the group some time ago," said Waitemata Police District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle.

ONE news understands the boy is the son of a Detective Constable based at the Auckland Central Police Station.

"NZ Police take any allegations of criminal offending by any of its officers or their families extremely seriously," Superintendent Searle said.

"Recent cases have highlighted that Police will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate staff facing allegations of a criminal nature and will put them before the court if there is a case to answer."

A senior detective from outside the Waitemata district has been brought in to help with the investigation, Superintendent Searle said.

"The purpose of getting a senior detective involved is to support the enquiry team going forward and to make sure that we take every possible opportunity we can ... for an investigation or prosecution if that's appropriate."

'Rape club'

The story of the group has made international news, with media outlets in the US, UK and Australia covering it.

The group has been described as an "online rape club" by Daily News America.

"An online rape club where young men allegedly film themselves having group sex with underage girls after getting them black-out drunk is under investigation in New Zealand," the article on the news website reads.

"The Aucklanders calling themselves Roast Busters are said to film their gang rapes with girls as young as 13 and then upload video to Facebook to share their accomplishment."

Thousands of New Zealanders have shown their support for vigilante groups calling for action to be taken against members of the group, as outrage around the group grows.

Social media users say police are failing the victims, and they are ready to dish out their own form of justice.

One Facebook community calling for the teenage boys to "rot in jail" had 19,294 likes this morning.

The page has since been taken down, but another calling for people to make confessions remains live and has nearly 2000 likes.

One person posted: "I really hope all the brothers, cousins, uncles, dads and granddaddys of all these girls join forces and give u a piece of there mind...come on girls if your one of the girls they took advantage of please help New Zealand get them off the streets!"

In response to the Facebook groups, police have warned anyone considering taking the law into their own hands to think again.

"We understand the outrage that this group has caused, however violence will not be tolerated and we will take firm action against anyone inciting, threatening or using violence against these people," Superintendent Searle said.

Ringleader fired from job

Joseph Levall Parker, the son of Anthony Ray Parker and described as one of two ringleaders of the group, was dismissed from his role as a part-time telemarketer for Ray White Real Estate after the group came to light.

A staff member told ONE News today that the Glen Eden firm learned about the group only yesterday.

Management will also be asking Mr Parker's brother Anthony, who is also employed at the office, to explain whether he had any role in the group, the staff member said.

Beraiah Hales has been named as the other leader of the group.