Understandable but wrong

Chloe Johnson at NZ Herald reports:

A teenager who claims she was sexually abused as a child has taken the law into her own hands after police declined to take the case to court.

Hastings student Mikayla Ziebe, 16, hand-delivered more than 100 leaflets to Napier houses last week, accusing an elderly man of being a paedophile.

Ziebe’s mother, Julie Wakefield, supported the action.

“This is her way of being heard,” Wakefield said. “It is her choice and I fully support her.”

The letter has four photos of the man, his name and the message: “He is in his 70s, watch out for him.”

If she was abused by the man, then I can understand her anger and desire to protect others. There’s a part of me that thinks it is good she is not just being a victim.

It was also left in the letterbox of the accused. Ziebe and her mother reported the allegations to Hastings police, which investigated but were unable to press charges because of a lack of evidence.

After four months of counselling this year, Ziebe decided to publicly accuse the man.

“It’s horrible and no one will believe me,” Ziebe said. “I want them to know I am serious.”

Eastern District crime manager detective inspector Rob Jones said police investigated the allegations on two separate occasions and both times fell short of finding sufficient evidence to prosecute.

From what I have observed, the Police tend to prosecute – even when they have a he said vs she said type scenario. I’m in no way doubting her word, but we don’t know what evidence the Police found or did not found. Were there specific dates alleged which he can prove he was not here for etc?

I’m also rather concerned that the motivation is “to be heard”, rather than to protect others. Sticking a copy in his letterbox also suggests it is about revenge – and understandable if the allegations are correct – but ultimately wrong.

Of course you can argue she has freedom of speech, and he can sue for defamation, but it isn’t quite that simple.

The accused man told the Herald on Sunday it was a vicious attack on his family, which they reported to police. He denied the allegations and was overwhelmed with support from his neighbours. “I would be in jail if I was guilty,” he said.

Well, not quite.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Garth McVicar said it was a “natural outcome” for people to seek justice when they felt let down by the system.

Auckland Sexual Abuse Help clinical manager Kathryn McPhillips said only 1 per cent of cases ended in a conviction because the justice system was not child-friendly.

1%? I’d like to see a reference for that figure. I know only around 10% of rape complaints lead to a conviction, but 1% seems a very improbable figure to me. That suggests that if there are 5,000 child abuse convictions are year, in fact we have 500,000 case of abuse annually.


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