The limit for free speech

February 3rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s “good character” requirements could stop the head of a pro-rape group entering the country.

The US-based head of a “neomasculinist” group – who has expressed support for Roast Busters in the past and advocates for legalising rape on private property – is setting up meetings for like-minded men across the globe on Saturday, including in New Zealand.

Advocating rape is when I think it crosses the threshold.

Technically he is advocating the legalisation of rape, rather than raping when it is illegal. But that is a very fine line.

I’m generally for allowing very offensive views to be aired in NZ – such as David Irving’s holocaust denial.

But just as you can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre, advocating for rape crosses that threshold.

Law Commission on sexual violence cases

December 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sweeping changes about how courts handle sexual violence cases have been recommended by the Law Commission amid concerns a high percentage of offending is unreported.

On Monday, it released its 252-page report on the issue, The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence: Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes, which noted many victims feared how they would be treated in a criminal trial so as many as 80 per cent opted out.

“They are doing so largely because they perceive the formal criminal justice system to be alienating, traumatising and unresponsive to their legitimate concerns,” commission president Sir Grant Hammond said in the report.

Some victims, especially those violated by a family member or someone they were in a relationship with, also would not report the violence because they did not want the assailant to go to prison if convicted.

“A high percentage of victims of sexual violence are ‘opting out’ of the very system that is designed to deliver them justice. Appropriate justice processes are required for all victims of sexual violence, including those who may not want to go to trial,” Hammond said.

The commission proposed three major changes, including ways to improve trial processes, such as piloting a specialist sexual violence court, establishing a Sexual Violence Commission to give victims more support and offering an alternative justice process outside the criminal system if sexual violence victims preferred.

Other ways it recommended to boost trial processes for victims included shortening the time it took for sexual violence cases to reach trial, using less traumatic ways of giving evidence by victims and giving special training for judges.

Its proposed alternative justice process for sexual violence cases outside of the criminal system would be managed by accredited facilitators with expertise in sexual violence.

These proposals look very worthwhile and I hope the Government takes them up.

I was worried the Law Commission might go down the path of Andrew Little’s policy, where you are deemed guilty of rape unless you can prove you had consent.

The proposed alternative justice process has considerable merit. It would allow victims who don’t want to go through a criminal prosecution and trial, to still have the alleged offender have to answer questions about their actions, and potentially acknowledge they acted wrongly.

DNA solves a crime

November 23rd, 2015 at 3:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

DNA evidence taken from a man 17 years after he abucted and raped a woman has led to his conviction and a lengthy prison sentence.

Glenn Te Kahu, 38, was arrested in Whanganui on December 10 last year, and a DNA sample was taken from him as police planned to charge him with intending to injure.

Since a 2010 law change to the Criminal Investigations (Blood Samples) Act 1995, police have been permitted to obtain DNA from people they intend to charge with an imprisonable offence.

When Te Kahu’s DNA was entered in the national profile databank a “hit” occurred, and it was matched to an unsolved rape and abduction in Napier on the evening of February 5, 1998.

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, was out having drinks in a Napier bar with her fiance and another couple. About 2am the group decided to leave the bar. As they walked back to their car, the woman was ahead of the group and turned into a side street.

Te Kahu, a 20-year-old Mongrel Mob member at the time, was standing next to his car on the side street. He grabbed the woman, threatened to kill her if she disobeyed, and pushed her into the car before speeding away. He dragged her on to the beach at Marine Parade and raped her, then ran to his car and drove away.

The victim screamed for help and people came to her aid. She spoke to police, who took swabs from her and entered the DNA in the national databank.

Despite an investigation that lasted months, the woman’s attacker was not found – until December last year.

Great to see the law change working, and a rapist going to jail for his crime.

Sadly two parties voted against the law change in 2009 – Greens and Maori Party.

Why only eight years?

September 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A Wellington woman tried to explain to a brutal rapist that she could be pregnant with her first child and begged him not to hurt her.

It did not matter to Bailey Meredith, 17, who violated her over and over during an attack on the Hutt River riverbank on June 11 before beating her unconscious.

She had been out walking when he had grabbed her from behind, ordering her to her knees before saying he intended to rape her.

The victim went on to explain about IVF which she and her husband had been going through but it made no difference.  They were to find out if she was pregnant that weekend instead she was being treated for her injuries and tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Meredith had pleaded guilty to rape, four charges of unlawful sexual connection, abduction with intent to rape, wounding with intent to injure and threatening to kill.  He has been jailed for eight years.

That seems light to me. In 2010 I blogged the Court of Appeal guidelines being:

  1. Rape Band 1 (6 to 8 yrs) – offending at the lower end of the spectrum where there are no aggravating factors, no serious violence, no abduction, the victim is not very young or very old.
  2. Rape Band 2 (7 to 13 yrs) – involves moderate violence, pre-meditation, a rape involving more than one offender, or an especially vulnerable victim
  3. Rape Band 3 (12 to 18 yrs) – offending with serious additional violence, wit multiple (three or more) aggravating factors. For particularly cruel, callous or violent rapes.
  4. Rape Band 4 (16 to 20 yrs) – for multiple offending over considerable periods of time, gang or pack rape.

There was obvious serious violence that left her unconscious.  It would seem to me the case would be Rape Band 2 or 3, not Rape Band 1.

Officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Nick Pritchard, said it was one of the worst cases he had investigated.

“This was a sexual attack that involved extreme violence. It was one of the most violent sexual attacks I’ve seen in my career,” he said.

So eight years seems rather light. He did plead guilty which gets 10% to 33% knocked off.  But in theory he could be out of jail in under three years.


Punish the village council the same way

August 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two sisters in India were sentenced to be raped as “punishment” for their brother running away with a married woman from a higher caste in the latest caste incident to shock the country.

Meenakshi Kumari, who is 23, and her sister, 15, would then be paraded naked with their faces blackened through the streets, according to a ruling from the all-male village council.

The sisters have petitioned the country’s Supreme Court to be protected from the so-called “eye-for-an-eye” ruling from the village council in Uttar Pradesh state, 48km from the capital, New Delhi.

It’s the year 2015, and I can’t believe stuff like this is still happening.

Khap panchayats are the archaic systems of village justice that exist in much of rural India. They are dominated by the Jat caste and are almost always run by male village elders. The “courts” often order honour killings and sexual “punishments” and are frequently allowed to operate completely outside the Indian legal system, despite the Supreme Court labelling them “kangaroo courts”.

Here’s an idea. If you can’t get rid of these kanagaroo courts entirely, then how about announcing that any members of a village council that vote for a sentence that causes shame to their country, then have that sentence applies to them. An eye for an eye indeed.

So if these men are going to vote for rape as a punishment for dishonour, then see how they like it. I suspect after a couple of times where they have to endure their own sentences, they’ll stop making such outrageous decisions.

And no I’m not serious, but I am appalled.

The Cosby 35

July 29th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A very powerful feature in NY Magazine, with interviews and photos of 35 women with very similiar stories about Bill Cosby drugging and raping them. The photos, all in black and white on the same chair, are stark.

Cosby has admitted in sworn statements that he routinely drugged women to make them more compliant. He argues that this doesn’t make it rape. It does.


That’s rape not seduction

July 20th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

That may have changed after a New York Times report, in which Cosby’s own words – not those of his alleged victims – seem to lend even more credence to the portrait painted by dozens of women who steadfastly maintain that beneath Cosby’s charming exterior lies a devious sexual predator.

The Times reported that Cosby said he used money, multiple prescriptions for sedatives and calculated manipulation to seduce at least five women.

If you are sedating them, then it is rape not seduction.

The list gets longer

May 6th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. Kristina Ruehli, 1965
  2. Sunni Wells, mid 1960s
  3. Carla Ferrigno, 1967
  4. Linda Brown, 1969
  5. Cindra Ladd, after 1969
  6. Joan Tarshis, 1969
  7. Victoria Valentino, 1970
  8. Louisa Moritz, 1971
  9. Donna Motsinger, 1971
  10. Katherine McPhee, 1970s
  11. Tamara Green, 1970s
  12. Linda Joy Traitz, 1970s
  13. Helen Hayes, 1973
  14. Judy Huth, 1974
  15. Margie Shapiro, 1975
  16. Shawn Brown, mid 1970s
  17. Therese Serignese, 1976
  18. P J Masten, 1979
  19. Linda Kirkpatrick, 1981
  20. Renita Chaney Hill, 1982
  21. Janice Dickinson, 1982
  22. Joyce Emmons, early 1980s
  23. Lynn Neal, early 1980s
  24. Beth Ferrier, 1984
  25. Sammie Mays, mid 1980s
  26. Beverly Johnson, mid 1980s
  27. Heidi Thomas, 1984
  28. Chelan, 1985
  29. Barbara Bowman, 1986
  30. Helen Gumpel, 1987
  31. Jewel Allison, late 1980s
  32. Lisa Jones, 1986
  33. Lisa, 1988
  34. Lise-Lotte Lublin, 1989
  35. Jena T, 1989
  36. Lilli Bernard, 1992
  37. Angela Leslie, 1992
  38. Kacey, 1990s
  39. Michelle Hurd, mid 1990s
  40. Lachele Covington, 2000
  41. Andrea Constand, 2004
  42. Chloe Goins, 2008

Rolling Stone not sacking anyone for fake story

April 8th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Rolling Stone magazine just plain got it wrong.

That’s the conclusion of the massive (and massively long) piece penned by three officials at Columbia University journalism school, a report that details the fact that the story of a gang rape of a woman named “Jackie” at the University of Virginia was, in fact, simply not right.

So, that’s bad enough. What’s worse is that the errors made by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the article’s author, and the rest of the Rolling Stone editorial chain were entirely avoidable and encompassed the sort of basic reporting that every student in journalism school should know.

Not only were none of the claims by “Jackie” checked out, the journalist who wrote the article actually lied about having tried to contact certain people.

And yet, Rolling Stone has apparently decided that this whole episode was just a blip on the radar and not at all the sort of thing that Erdely, her editor or anyone else should lose their job(s) for. “Sabrina’s done great work for us over the years and we expect that to continue,” Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana told The Washington Post via e-mail.


I am not one to call for other reporters’ heads when mistakes are made, as I have made mistakes before and had my head called for. But there are mistakes and then there are MISTAKES. A poorly chosen tweet or, in my case, a poorly conceived and unfunny parody, is one thing. Totally misreporting allegations of a gang rape in a hugely high-profile magazine story is another. One is poor judgement, often in the world of Twitter expressed (and regretted) in a millisecond. What Erdely did is journalistic malpractice, failing to do the basic blocking and tackling of reporting because, frankly, the story she had was just too good to check.

Erdely also lied, as well as being negligent in not checking.

The Post also reports:

The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said Monday that the fraternity house will file a lawsuit against Rolling Stone, calling the magazine’s discredited reporting of an alleged gang rape by some of its members “reckless.”

The fake story had real world impact. The chapter was closed down. Its members were smeared and called rapists.

“Irresponsible journalism unjustly damaged the reputations of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia,” Sullivan said. “Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate. The story portrayed University staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims of sexual assault. Such false depictions reinforce the reluctance sexual assault victims already feel about reporting their experience, lest they be doubted or ignored.”

Actual victims of rape, may be those most harmed by this awful fake story.

Australia needs a three strikes law

March 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of Victoria’s most notorious criminals – the man who brutally raped and murdered Jill Meagher in 2012 – has been found guilty of raping three other women after being released on parole for a string of other heinous crimes.

He was on parole?

Two of the victims, a Dutch backpacker and a St Kilda sex worker, were raped just months before Bayley raped and murdered Meagher. At the time he was out on parole after serving time for a string of sex worker rapes in 2000.

Bayley now has more than 20 convictions for rape.

Incredible. No one should ever get the chance for more than three convictions. He did at least 10 rapes over 12 years.

Now in NZ a third rape would get 20 years with no parole, or preventive detention.

Cosby count now at 24

December 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This Herald story lists the now 24 women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of (generally) drugging and raping them.

When that many accusations are made, I have no doubt of the veracity.

What gets me wondering is how many more victims are there? If 24 have come forward, there must be many more who have not.

Where does Fairfax get their stats from?

November 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A year may have passed but the message is still the same. 

The second annual National Day of Action to Bust Rape Culture was held in Auckland and Wellington today.   

Organsier Jessie Hume and 200 other supporters turned out to the High Court in Auckland this afternoon to demand resolutions to an “endemic and devastating” rape culture. 

Hume said half of the supporters formed a circle with one donning red to represent the one in 100 women who receive justice in the form of accountability through the courts when making a rape complaint. 

It’s thought just ten per cent of sexual assaults are reported and only one per cent of those will lead to a conviction, according to the Ministry of Justice. 

I have great sympathy for the cause, but less sympathy for dodgy statistics.

The statistic on only 10% of sexual assaults are reported could well be true, sadly.  It comes from a 2001 report and anecdotal evidence from female (and some male) friends is that many have been assaulted and not reported it.

But the 1% figure is clearly wrong. Fairfax have written it in a way that states only 1% of those reported will lead to a conviction.

I blogged in 2009 on an excellent report by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs which reviewed 2,000 sexual violation complaints over a 30 month period.

They found 13% of complaints lead to a conviction, and of complaints deemed “valid”, 20% led to a conviction.

Not don’t get me wrong both figures are too low, and the story is right that we should have a higher conviction rate for valid complaints. But they are massively higher than 1%.

The research on what happens to complaints is interesting. The data is:

  • 8% deemed “false” by Police
  • 26% deemed “no offence” which usually means the victim withdrew the complaint. This doesn’t mean there was no offence, just that the complainant didn’t want to proceed.
  • 11% did not have a suspect identified
  • 24% did have a suspect identified but were not prosecuted. It was stated this is normally due to victim withdrawal, insufficient evidence or conflicting evidence
  • 18% did lead to a prosecution but the person was found not guilty or the case dropped
  • 13% were prosecuted and a person convicted

Of the 31% that went to trial, 16% had a guilty plea, 30% had the case withdrawn or discharged and 52% went to trial. The conviction rate for those that went to trial was 49% guilty and 51% acquitted.

The biggest factor is victim withdrawal – either initially, or before charges are laid or even charges are laid. This is not surprising as going forward can be extremely traumatizing.  This is where I think the focus should be – on having a less traumatic judicial process for victims. But I don’t support changing the burden of proof as proposed by Andrew Little.

Should we keep juries for rape trials?

September 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.

The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.

“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.

“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”

I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.

But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.

Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.

Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”

The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”

Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.

The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.

Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.

“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”

Which seem reasonable steps.

Labour’s guilty until proven innocent law makes the UK newspapers

July 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent (UK) reports:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence to reduce the trauma suffered by victims.

Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system in the run-up to the country’s general elections in September.

They won’t remain second largest as more and more people hear about their policy. But well done Labour on making international headlines for their policy.

Labour and human rights

July 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Labour’s policy to make people accused of sexual assault prove their innocence is in stark contrast to this. Labour are saying that the presumption of innocence will be reversed if you are accused of sexual assault or rape, if the only issue is consent, not that sex occurred.

The Green Party has policy saying:

Encourage commitment to international human rights as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions, and support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

So my question to the Greens is, do they support Labour’s policy to reverse the burden of proof for consent in rape cases?

How can you claim to support the UDHR and even entertain for a second Labour’s policy?

While David Cunliffe has backed away from the policy, saying they are just considering it, Andrew Little explicitly said on Twitter changing the burden of proof is policy, and Little is still advocating for the change. Until such a time as Labour unambiguously says there is no chance of a change to burden of proof under Labour, the only safe thing to do is assume it is likely to occur if they get into Government.

Little on the presumption of innocence

July 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Meet your next Justice Minister people. The Herald reports:

Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little did not think the party’s proposal would lead to more innocent people being convicted.

“I don’t see why. You’re assuming that there is a propensity to lay false complaints. There is no evidence pointing to that.”

So Labour’s next Justice Minister thinks that an accusation is all you need to convict someone, as there are no false complaints.

Why doesn’t he go the whole hog, and save us the expense of trials. You’re accused, and you’re automatically guilty. Bang.

Again I urge everyone to make sure people understand that if Labour is elected, you will need to prove your innocence if you have sex with someone and are accused of rape.

David Cunliffe has started to back away from the policy, but Andrew Little has confirmed it is official policy and is obviously still extremely wedded to it.

I would have thought Mr Little would not have to think too far back in Labour’s recent past to think of how stupid it is to have a presumption of guilt based on allegation.

I am staggered that this policy got approved by the Labour Party. It is horrendous and wrong. Unless they rule it out totally, then don’t vote for them if you believe in the presumption of innocence.

No Right Turn on the presumption of innocence

July 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn blogs on Labour’s policy to require those accused of rape to prove they had consent:

This clearly violates the presumption of innocence affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act (not to mention the Universal Declaration of Human RightsICCPR, and every other major human rights instrument). Under that presumption, the state has to prove each and every aspect of its case (“the burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies”). That’s clearly not the case under Labour’s proposal.

Our Supreme Court has already found that the presumption of supply in the Misuse of Drugs Act violates the Bill of Rights Act for exactly these reasons. They will draw exactly the same conclusion about this proposal – as will the UN Human Rights Commission.

I accept that rape cases are difficult to prove. This change will make them remarkably easier. If Labour gets its way, there will be a lot more convictions for rape. And a lot more of them will be of innocent people. We presume innocence because we believe it is far better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be punished. Labour clearly does not believe that any more.

A party which does not believe in and will not defend the presumption of innocence does not deserve your vote. All they deserve is your contempt. If they retain this policy, you should not vote Labour.

I can not believe they will not back down on this policy. Surely it is just a matter of time.

I’m surprised the Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association have been silent on Labour’s policy. It’s hard to think of a policy that strikes more at the heart of the justice system.

Herald picks up on Labour’s policy to make you prove consent if you have sex

July 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party’s plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent — a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift.

Every New Zealander needs to know about this insane policy of Labour;s.

The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual.

This could lead to a huge increase in people videotaping their encounters, as it is the only way to prove consent.

Think about all the times you have had sex with someone, and how often could you *prove* consent. Bear in mind that even if you are married to them, that is not proof. If you split with your ex, then all they have to do is head to the cops and say the sex you had six weeks ago was not consensual. Now you then have to *prove* there was consent. Proof is not just casting doubt on the allegation – it is proof that you had consent. Now think about how could you prove you had consent. Doubt is not enough. If it is what you say vs what they say, you will lose.

I’m not sure there is a (western) country in the world that requires you to prove consent when it comes to allegations of sexual assault. There’s a reason for that.

“The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent,” Mr Little said.

Which is a barrier in stranger rape allegations. But no barrier to the large number of cases when the issue is consent, not identity.

He said the issue of proof would only apply where allegations of rape had been raised.

“It is pretty radical thing to say that ‘all sex is rape’ unless you prove consent. The reality is that in 99.9 per cent of cases, no one is being asked to prove consent.”

So reassuring. So long as there is no accusation.

Mr Little said the inquisitorial system still preserved those principles because the Crown would still have to prove a number of aspects of a case before consent was explored.

“I don’t accept that that is creating an offence under which the defendant is guilty until proven innocent.”

They are, once the fact of sex is established – they must then prove their innocence.

If you ever needed a reason to convince your friends and neighbours not to vote Labour, this is it. I predict Labour will be forced to abandon this policy, as more and more people become aware of it – but can you trust them not to implement it after the election regardless?

Sex contracts

July 7th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s new policy is that if you have sex with someone, you need to prove there was consent, otherwise you are guilty of rape.

In anticipation no doubt of such insanity becoming law if Labour wins, there is a site which offers contracts that you can get your partner to sign prior to sex. There’s one for women and men.

It’s very detailed, so you have an absolute defence in court, as to what has and has not been consented to. The kissing section is:

Consent yes/no to:

  • closed mouth kissing
  • open-mouthed kissing with lips 
  • open-mouthed kissing with tongue
  • light biting/nibbling
  • heavy biting/nibbling
  • kissed on the face and neck

It usefully also includes a check box saying that you will not hold the kisser responsible for hickeys 🙂

The other sections are somewhat more explicit, so I won’t repeat them here. Highly amused though by being able to specify a maximum number of fingers 🙂

If Labour’s don’t ditch their insane policy, I’m thinking the Young Nationals could print out these sex contracts, with a Labour Party logo, and distribute them around bars and nightclubs so people understand that if Labour get elected, you need to prove you are not a rapist if you have sex with someone.

Labour’s official policy is you must prove you are not a rapist

July 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is a major policy by Labour, that has had very little attention. It is now Labour Party policy that you have to prove your innocence if accused of rape.

Andrew Little said on the 2nd of July:

“A better measure would be to hand control of all examination of a victim to the judge with lawyers for both sides notifying the court which issues they want dealt with, along with shifting the burden of proof on the issue of consent to the defence.

This means that if two people have sex, and one person accuses the other of rape, then the accused must prove beyond reasonable doubt they had consent.

Now you might think this is just Andrew Little musing aloud. Not so.  He confirms in this tweet it is official policy.

Graeme Edgeler sums their policy up:

Andrew Little says:

“This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – the basic facts of the case still have to be made out – but it does mean the prosecution doesn’t need to prove a negative, namely that there was no consent.

This is sophistry. If the act of sex is not disputed, just consent, then the defendant does have to prove themselves innocent.

I wonder how many hours it will take until Labour does a u-turn on their policy, once people realise its implications.

Rape is a terrible crime, and the court process is very hard on many victims, and I am sure it can be improved. But reversing the presumption of innocence and burden of proof is not the answer.

Gang rape as a punishment for dating outside the village

January 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This is like something from the 1500s. Can not believe it could happen in 2014. Stuff reports:

A 20-year-old woman in eastern India was gang-raped by 13 men on the orders of a village court as punishment for having a relationship with a man from a different community, a senior police officer says.

The woman, who is now recovering in hospital, told police she was assaulted by the men on the night of January 20 in Birbhum district in West Bengal.

Police said that her male companion was tied up in the village square, while the assault on the woman happened in a mud house.

“We arrested all the 13 men, including the village chief who ordered the gang rape. The accused have been produced in court which remanded them to jail custody,” Birbhum’s Superintendent of Police, C. Sudhakar, said.

I’m tempted to suggest that the 13 men should face gang rape as their own punishment, but of course two wrongs do not make a right, even if there would be an element of karma in it.

I don’t know much about the Indian penal code, but hopefully the village chief can be sent away for 15+ years, which would send a message to others.

Moving Stories

November 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A New Zealand journalists blogs:

I am a journalist and for the past week or so my work-related world has revolved around the so-called Roast Busters case.

I am also a survivor of sexual assault. …

I’ve learned, over my years as a journalist, to hold the horrible things at arm’s length, to let myself feel the pain of them but not to let them affect the other parts of my life. I love my job, and to me it’s largely worth that effort. But the ugly jolt of alleged sex crimes as shocking as these ones, a case that dominates the discourse of an entire country for days on end, sends concentric ripples into the rest of my life as well.

By the second day of the Roast Busters story, my jaw hurt from clenching it. As each new detail came out and was discussed around me in the office, I got a weird, floating feeling in my arms and legs that I know from experience to be adrenalin. After a few bursts of it I was exhausted, but I lay in bed later – one in the morning, two, three – unable to sleep. My eyes were gritty and I picked at the skin on my fingers until, by the third day, my hands looked worse than they had in years. I started feeling too sick to my stomach to eat.

I thought about posting something on Facebook, but there are members of my family who don’t know I was sexually assaulted. I’m Facebook friends with colleagues who are expecting me to cover the Roast Busters case and don’t know I was assaulted. Newsrooms are tough places and people expect that journalists will behave like tough people. I’ve no doubt that I’m Facebook friends with survivors I don’t know about, who are just as nervous about being outed as I am in this situation. I’m seeing a guy who doesn’t know yet about this thing in my past, and probably doesn’t need to find out in a pained, wounded social media rant. So I stayed silent.

I this this whole sage has probably been painful for many victims of rape and sexual assault. The entire blog post is very raw but real.

Over at I am someone, a number of victims tell their stories. I won’t even try to quote from their stories but it is hard to read a 14 year old girl writing about the friend’s father who assaulted her when she was nine. But reading their stories is not in the same universe as telling them.

Why I couldn’t be a defence lawyer

November 14th, 2013 at 5:29 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A young Wellington woman raped by a bouncer in an alleyway could have “closed her legs” if she didn’t want sex, the man’s lawyer told a jury. …

He claimed the woman made a false complaint to police six days later because she regretted the sex. There was no struggle or any threats, nor was there violence, Jefferies said in his closing arguments yesterday.

“All she would have had to do was to close her legs . . . it’s as simple as that,” he told the jury. “Why didn’t she do that? . . . The reason she didn’t do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that.” …

Jefferies said after the verdict that his comments were made as part of the defence, and were not his personal view.

“This is the defence of a criminal charge. The Crown and the judge didn’t complain about it.”

The case revolved around whether sex was consensual, which made the complainant’s position important, he said.

“The accused was of the view there was an element of willingness from the accuser, and that she was a willing partner. What I say to the jury doesn’t represent my personal view. It merely represents the defence.”

He is just doing his job, but personally speaking I don’t think I could do a job where I have to advocate that a woman consented to sex just because she didn’t close her legs.


Hooton vs Willie and JT

November 7th, 2013 at 4:09 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton lets loose to Willie and JT about their previous shows on the Roast Busters. He gets thrown out.

Well done Matthew. Making excuses for the men involved on the basis of where they live or how the girls dressed is just wrong. The girls were 13. That is the end of it.

Matthew has Facebooked:

 I don’t want to be all moralistic about this, because I have behaved terribly from time to time.

But I have two daughters, aged 6 and 8. I hope not, but I expect that if they follow the example of their parents they will behave appallingly when they are teens. I expect they will dress in ways I find reprehensible, hang out with friends I disapprove of, and might get shamefully pissed at what was meant to be a wholesome 15th birthday party.

To some extent, this will be my fault for not being as a good a parent as I should be. 

However, when my 14 year-old girls do behave badly, I expect that any 17 year-old men nearby will, at worst, ignore them or, at best, look after them and get them home safely.

My daughters are entitled to rebel and behave badly, without being raped.

That is the point.

More on Roast Busters

November 7th, 2013 at 5:50 am by David Farrar

3 News last night reported:

Ever since 3 News broke the story of the west Auckland Roast Busters, police have maintained they couldn’t prosecute the underage sex gang until they received a complaint from a victim.

Tonight it can be revealed the police did receive a complaint from one girl; two years ago.

The girl, now 15, says she felt it was her word against the Roast Busters and no charges were laid.

“This is my chance to say something. I couldn’t do anything two years ago. I want to do something now,” she told 3 News, in the presence of her mother and sister.

She wanted to be identified, but for legal reasons she is unable to be shown or named. She says she was sexually assaulted by the Roast Busters when she was 13.

“Joseph was on my left side. Tristram was on my right. And Beraiah was on top […] I was a virgin.”

She says she was “terrified”.

“I started crying and was asking Beraiah to hop off and I was scared and stuff […] I was more traumatised that I was 13 and losing my virginity.”

She says she was telling them to stop and get off her, but they continued. It was Joseph, she says, who eventually stopped it.

“He said ‘Beraiah get off her or you’ll be done for rape’ […] He said ‘oh shit’, and hopped off.”

She believes she was one of the first victims. Afterwards, she blamed herself. She stopped eating and it took weeks to tell her family.

They immediately took her to the police, where she says she laid a complaint. Her brother handed over the boys’ names and addresses to the detective.

“I had a video interview where I had to act out what had happened with dolls […] It was traumatising.”

But, apparently, it wasn’t enough. She said she felt like it was her word against the Roast Busters.

“They said that I didn’t have enough evidence to show. Because I went out in clothes that was pretty much asking for it. […] I was asked a lot of questions about what I was wearing, and I went out in a skirt.

“If it was me, it could be any of my friends. I knew it would carry on ,” she says. 

“I can’t believe nothing was done then. From then I have had my friends sexually abused by them. How many girls have been raped? I have seen posts done by girls saying Roast Busters ruined their lives […] They’ve gotten away with so much.”

The girl plans to lay another complaint with police tomorrow.

There may be two sides to this story but one the face of it, this is appalling. Regardless of any issues around proving consent, this doesn’t apply as she was 13. I can’t understand how this did not lead to a prosecution.

It is good the complaint is being re-laid.  The challenge for the Police is to convince people that the culture that was evident in some (not all) areas of the Police with regards to sexual violence and women in the past, has been changed. It is not apparent it has. The sad thing with this is a number of female friends who have remarked that if they were raped as a young woman, they would not (or did not) go to the Police.
Of course it is not just the Police who may have a culture problem.  In this Stuff article, the “Roast Busters” are defended by some of their female friends:

The Roast Busters are being publicly defended by an unlikely source – their female friends.

The young women say the girls involved with the Roast Busters knew exactly what they were getting into. Many of the girls had group sex with the gang more than once, showing that they were willing participants, the friends claim.

Many, is not all. It doesn’t matter if 95% were willing participants if 5% were not.

Hargreaves and four of her friends appeared on TV3 last night, speaking out on behalf of the group. They said Hales and Parker were “not rapists” but “cool dudes”, and that drunken group sex was actually “normal in West Auckland”.

“Not for everybody though it’s just the young ones – 13 to 15-year-olds – that’s what they do”, one of the girls claimed.

That is very very sad. I’m sure not applying to all of West Auckland, but there is obviously a sub-culture where it is, and presumably huge peer pressure to conform.

UPDATE: Stuff now reports that the Police in fact had four complaints in the past about members of Roast Busters. This is a very serious situation for the Police as they had been saying that they could do nothing because there had been no complaints.

There are now multiple issues for the Police to deal with.

  1. Why did they say there had been no complaints, when there had been four? My assumption is a communications stuff up rather than malice, but it simply isn’t good enough. This information should have been made available to the hierarchy the moment the public spotlight turned on these West Auckland youths.
  2. Why were there no prosecutions in the past? Now we need to be careful here as the Police are independent and are the ones who have to weigh up whether a prosecution can succeed. And lack of consent can be very difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. However if the girls complaining were under 16, then the issue of consent is not necessary for a prosecution. Now again, some judgement here is needed. If two teenagers both aged say 15 and a half have consensual sex, and say the parents of the girl complain, I don’t see much merit in turning the 15 and a half year old boy into a criminal. But if the girls are themselves the complainants and they are aged under 16, then it seems a case for prosecution. Other factors can be the age difference. Two 15 year olds is different to say a 19 year old and a 14 year old.
  3. If there were four complaints, why did the Police not take some other action, short of prosecution. Were any of the young men interviewed and cautioned? That in itself would be a good way to scare them into not thinking it is okay to get young under age girls drunk so you can have sex with them.