Thursday, 19 March 2015

Roast Busters report from IPCA is scathing

Some quick links:

Release from NZ Police - Young women to receive apology for shortcomings...

Herald report - IPCA: Police "let down" Roast Busters alleged victims

The report itself - (links for PDFs in first paragraph on this page at IPCA website)

Quick comment from me:  It appears that the police involved made a major (and to my mind inexplicable) mistake in somehow deciding that rape law only targeted consenting partners (WTF!), and because the law says you can't consent if you are under 16 somehow you also can't be raped?

Here's a sample from the report, in relation to the lack of consideration of rape charges:
Sexual conduct with a young person under 16 
84. Under section 134 of the Crimes Act 1961, everyone who has a sexual connection with, or does an indecent act on, a young person (under the age of 16 years) has committed an offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment (see paragraph 132). There is no question that these young men were aware that the young women involved in the six cases investigated by CPT staff were under 16 years. As a result of their interaction with Police officers, it is also evident that several of the young men (certainly by the time the investigation into Case 1 had concluded) were aware that they were committing an offence, irrespective of their own ages. 
85. Critically, the offence of ‘sexual conduct with a young person under 16’ did not require Police to determine whether there was consent. They merely had to prove that sexual connection had occurred and that the complainant was under 16 at the time. Clearly, therefore, the evidential threshold for prosecution was met. The only question for the Police was whether it was in the public interest to prosecute.
86. The Authority recognises that it is uncommon for Police to prosecute a young person under section 134 for sexual connection with a person of the same or a similar age. This is because often such cases involve two young people, close together in age, who are engaging in mutually consenting sexual activity, and it is determined by Police that the public interest is not served by prosecution. 
87. It is clear that this general thinking underpinned the approach taken by the officers in these cases. Indeed, Officer D told the Authority that he and Officer C determined that prosecutions under section 134 were “inappropriate” because two of the three young men were under 16 at the time of the offending. He added that section 134 is intended for “consenting parties” and that, if it had been used to bring a prosecution in Case 3, it would have implied that the Police did not believe the victim’s initial account that she was not consenting. 
88. The Authority does not accept the validity of this reasoning, as there were a number of aggravating features in these cases that should have prompted consideration of such a prosecution. In four of these cases the young women were between two and three years younger than the young men involved. They were vulnerable (due to factors such as their level of intoxication); the extent to which they were willing parties was at best equivocal; and they Section 127 of the Act states, “There is no presumption of law that a person is incapable of sexual connection because of his or her age.”  The young men involved in these cases were aged between 14 and 17 years at the time of the incidents. 2424 were subject to sexual acts by more than one young man. The behaviour of the young men was demonstrably unacceptable and required a response. 
89. In our view, the fact that the parties are close together in age, while a relevant factor, is not determinative. Moreover, it is perverse to conclude that a prosecution for sexual violation cannot be brought because there is insufficient evidence to prove lack of consent beyond reasonable doubt, but then to reject a prosecution under section 134 on the basis that it would imply the existence of consent. The reality is that a prosecution under section 134 says nothing about the presence or absence of consent, because it is simply irrelevant to the facts that need to be proved.
90. At the least, officers should have discussed this option with victims and explained the implications to them. They were remiss in failing to do so.

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