In early November, New Zealand news agencies began reporting on the ‘Roast Busters,’ a group of boys whose Facebook page and other webpages bragged about having sex with often drunk and underaged girls—and therefore effectively bragging about rape—even going so far as to name the girls.

Outrage spread quickly throughout New Zealand and the rest of the world, and the group’s Facebook page was shut down only hours after the initial news report. Then the police admitted that they’d known about the group for at least two years.

Police had left the Facebook page up so as to track it and gather evidence to help convict the boys. At first, in response to public criticism, the police said that they didn’t have enough evidence to convict the boys, as no formal complaint against them had been made. Soon after, a former victim came forward and said that she had made a complaint to the police at the time the assault had first occurred, when she was thirteen. At least three other girls in the last few years had also come forward; one of the four had even made a formal complaint in the form of an evidential video interview. However, police said that the videos of the boys bragging and the victims’ complaints would not be enough to convict.

The first girl mentioned has complained about her interview by the police; they questioned her about her clothing and asked her to recreate the sex act with dolls.

Additionally, two of the boys appear well-connected: one is the son of the actor who played Doser in The Matrix, and another is allegedly the son of a local police officer.

By the end of the week, Police Minister Anne Tolley had asked the Independent Police Conduct Authority to look into the police force’s investigation of the Roast Busters.

The story came out on the tail of a bill the Parliament has introduced which would take legal action against cyber-bullying, including a three-year prison sentence for posting content with “intent to cause harm.” Some journalists seem critical of this coincidence, for all that the case merits public discussion and anger.

[Pam Pearce]

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