A group of five young Bay of Plenty men have been spared convictions after pleading guilty to sexual contact with underage girls.
At least one of the victims said she’d felt forced to make a complaint against the young men by the police, despite saying the sex was consensual.
Police were remaining tight-lipped on the girl’s allegation of coercion on Thursday night, saying they had concluded a “comprehensive investigation”.
One of the accused, who faced charges involving two of the girls, all of whom were aged 14 or 15 at the time, will have to pay reparation of $500.
Lawyers for the accused, aged 17 or 18 when the alleged offending occurred in the small town of Opotiki, were going to speak individually for their clients but Judge Louis Bidois proposed instead that they all appear at once during the packed courtroom sentencing on Thursday.
Reading a victim impact statement in the hearing at the Opotiki District Court, one of the girls implied she had been coaxed into following through with a complaint by police.
Standing with her mother, she said she never considered herself a victim or felt she had been mistreated in any way.
Instead, she said the laying of the charges and enduring the police investigation had impacted her adversely.
She said her then boyfriend had made her feel special and had text her daily for six months.
When he was going hunting on one occasion she told him to look after himself. She later spoke to him when he was on a ridgeline and had phone reception.
She said she did not want his future ruined because of her because he never forced her to do anything she did not want to do.
She said police told her he needed to pay for what he had done, but she said she did not want that and wanted to hold onto the memories they created together.
Police had not listened to how she felt and the investigation had “made her feel dirty and disgraceful”.
She was adamant she was not a victim and was just being used by police to make an example.
Judge Bidois discharged the men after deciding conviction would be disproportionate to the offending.
While hey broke the law, I’m surprised the Police prosecuted.
There is a difference between say a 50 year old and a 14 year old having sex, and a 17 year old and a 15 year old.
I think the current age of consent of 16 is set at the right level. However I think that a better law would be one that said if someone is aged between 14 and 16, and their partner is no more than two years older than them, then that is not a crime.