Former National candidate Jake Bezzant is no longer a member of the party as serious allegations against him from an ex-girlfriend emerge.
A podcast was released publicly on Monday featuring allegations that Bezzant had impersonated the ex-girlfriend, using explicit images of her in order to impersonate her in sexting conversations with other men.
The podcast featured Tarryn Flintoft, who said the behaviour was continuous during and after her relationship with Bezzant, and was still happening in recent weeks about a year after they had broken up.
“Jake Bezzant, who is involved in the National Party in New Zealand, used to impersonate me online and would make Snapchats and dating sites and things and would engage in online sex as me, and would send nude images and videos of me,” Flintoft said.
It should go without saying that no-one should use intimate photos or videos of their partner or ex-partner without their consent.
The allegations here is that Bezzant posed as his girlfriend and later ex girlfriend in order to have cyber sex with men, who thought he was her. Bezzant has denied this.
She said she complained to the police about the matter, who investigated it but could not press charges as Bezzant was not technically breaking the law.
With respect to the Police, I think they are wrong. Not only is there civil liability under the Privacy Act but I believe the Harmful Digital Communications Act could apply. You can be jailed for up to two years for posting a digital communication with the intention that it causes harm to a victim.
You could also look at S240 of the Crimes Act about causing loss by deception. Even forgery could apply as that is about making a false document to gain a benefit and arguably gaining cybersex could be deemed a benefit.
Bezzant was asked to respond to the allegations by Stuff. He did not address them directly but said there were “two sides to every story”.
“Personal relationship break ups sometimes get messy. Two sides to every story. There is more than just her and I involved so I am going to respect that and so I am not going to discuss it. This needs to be seen in the context of a relationship break up,” Bezzant said in a written statement.
He also confirmed he would not be seeking another National Party candidacy.
The party will be relieved, with hindsight, that he didn’t win Upper Harbour. Having these allegations against a former candidate is bad enough, but against a sitting MP would be a magnitude worse.