Written By: - Date published: 9:46 am, January 27th, 2019 - 92 comments
Categories: alcohol, auckland supercity, child abuse, child welfare, crime, law, law and "order", local body elections, police, Politics, Social issues, supercity - Tags: john tamihere
In what was very unfortunate timing for John Tamihere’s launch of his Mayoral campaign the Roastbusters issue is back in the public eye.
To recap the roast busters were a group of young predominately westie males who used to get young women drunk and then engage in sexual contact with them. A private page on Facebook was then used to brag about what had happened.
I have been on the panel of West Auckland lawyers representing young people in the Youth Court for over 30 years. I have acted for many young people who have got themselves into trouble doing not dissimilar things.
The normal response is to first of all make sure everyone is safe, then determine guilt, and if the matter is admitted to have the young people attend the Safe Programme, an intensive programme involving counselling, therapy, family sessions and group sessions. The programme works remarkably well and changes young people’s views on sexuality. But early intervention is really important.
Jail time is not normally involved. It is more important that they are fixed up. And that intervention happens as soon as possible.
Prosecution of the roast busters should have been a slam dunk. It may have been difficult to prove sexual violation because of consent issues. But it is also against the law to engage in sexual conduct with a woman under the age of 16 years. And there were admissions on Facebook that this was what had happened. Proof of this offence should have been very easy.
I do not know why but instead of the Police moving immediately to charge the males involved they held off. For too long. And then found out they could not do anything because too much time had passed.
The Independent Police Complaint Authority had a good look at the situation.
There were some interesting findings:
[Child Protection Team] staff did not adequately follow up and pursue positive lines of enquiry
The fact that the father of one of the young men was a Police officer had no influence on Police’s handling of the investigations
CPT staff did not properly evaluate all available offences when determining the outcome of their respective investigations
CPT staff failed to properly consider alternative action to address the potential offending behaviour of the young men involved and their potential care and protection issues.
Most of the findings were sound but the fact that the father of one of the roast busters was a Police Officer caused and still causes concern. I wish I was not so confident about this. It seems to me that something significant happened to affect their treatment.
Because the Child Protection Team did not do what they should have. Young women were badly treated and then watched as the system let them down.
One of the Roastbusters, Joseph Parker has recently gone public and given some media interviews, apparently in an attempt to launch a music career. Talking about his redemption as a media opportunity really sucks. He should not venture into our consciousness and say that he has learned and is better now. He should keep quiet. And privately beg forgiveness from his victims.
John Tamihere ran into problems by apparently justifying and minimising their behaviour and by treating one young woman very poorly in a radio interview interview. Tamihere’s problem is that his jovial it was all a bit of a youthful banter and boys will be boys stuff may have been acceptable in the stone age, or even in the middle ages, but nowadays most of us expect much better.
Simon Wilson talked to Tamihere recently about Roastbusters and this passage captures lots of events simultaneously:
In 2013, a group of teens who called themselves Roast Busters boasted on Facebook about their sexual activities with underage girls, some as young as 13. At the time Tamihere was a co-host on Radio Live with Willie Jackson, who is now a cabinet minister. At least five girls laid complaints with the police.
Live on air, Tamihere and Jackson interviewed a girl who said she was a friend of one of the complainants, who alleged she had been raped.
The two men seemed to belittle the girl and trivialise the accusations.
They cast doubt on her story, suggested the youths’ behaviour wasn’t serious and wondered aloud whether blame should be shared by the girls as well as the youths.
In the backlash that followed, both hosts were censured and Tamihere lost his job.
When I ask him about it, the first thing he says is: “It’s not widely known but I got a six-figure settlement from MediaWorks after that had all died down.”
I ask him, is that his response now? Does he regret anything he said?
“You tell me what I said and I’ll tell you if I regret it.”
What he and Jackson said, in a series of questions, was that perhaps the girls should not have been drinking or out late at night, that they were “free and easy”, and that perhaps the sex was consensual.
They said the youths’ behaviour was merely “mischief”. They laughed at the suggestion of rape.
A few days later, I read those comments to him. He says “Well they’re the sort of thing you say as a talkback host”.
But is he suggesting the girls should share the blame or that rape was not involved?
“Let me ask you this. How many people have been charged with rape?” he says.
I tell him the answer is none. I ask whether he has anything else to say about it.
He says: “You are now making things up in terms of connecting dots.”
He gets up, says “thank you very much”, and walks out of the room.
I have a great deal of respect for JT. His work for Waipareira over the last couple of decades has been outstanding. I can recall attending a meeting in 2004 and wondering if he could be the first Maori Prime Minister of New Zealand.
But his attitude to women and young women sucks.
And to the roast busters. Laura Walters is right. You should privately seek forgiveness and redemption. And don’t think that your status should be some sort of platform for a future career.