22 Jan 2019

Roast Buster interview 're-traumatising victims'

9:51 am on 22 January 2019

A member of the notorious Roast Busters gang has been labelled "an entitled young man who epitomises rape culture" after speaking out publicly for the first time.

Joseph Parker, a member of the group of teenage boys who boasted online about having sex with young girls, told Newshub in a story published yesterday he is not the monster he is made out to be.

In late 2013, news emerged about a group of teenage boys calling themselves Roast Busters.

The teens boasted online about having sex with drunk girls, some of them under-age, between 2011 and 2013.

Roast Busters member Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker. Photo: Youtube / Hohepa

Despite a lengthy police investigation - where more than 100 girls were identified as potential victims - the boys were never charged.

At the time police said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute. In 2011, an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation found the police had made basic mistakes, did not pursue positive lines of inquiry and let victims down.

But advocates for victims of sexual assault and harassment say his interview only re-traumatises his victims.

In the Newshub interview, Mr Parker said the police had their reasons for not laying charges.

"The police have all the details on every single complaint and, you know, they decided not to press charges for a reason," Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker has reportedly spent the last four years in Los Angeles working on a music career. He released a promotional video on Sunday calling for donations to support his latest endeavour.

Michaela Housiaux-Andrews, 18, and Isobel Gledhill, 19, chant beneath their placards.

Protesters march against rape culture in 2013. Photo: RNZ

And just last month, he released a song about the scandal called 'Trophies'.

Here is an excerpt from the first verse:

"Just knowin' I'm entertaining so many people, the praises had me in a frenzy to maintain it so I'm humiliating females just for the fame, flying the Roast Busters flag higher than a plane."

Mr Parker said the public did not know the full story.

"I'm not here to defend the Roast Busters and make the Roast Busters seem like we were saints because we weren't, we made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things wrong.

"But at the same time, we also weren't the monsters that everybody thought that we were and we didn't do all the things people thought we did," Mr Parker told Newshub.

Back in 2013, their behaviour sparked outrage nation wide.

A petition calling for then Prime Minister John Key to make changes to ensure justice for rape victims was signed by thousands and people lined the street in protest.

Meg De Ronde, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International New Zealand

Meg De Ronde says Mr Parker's comments are disturbing. Photo: Supplied

Meg De Ronde set up a website for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories in response to the scandal.

She described Mr Parker's comments as disturbing.

"It seems to be re-traumatising victims and an example of rape culture in action," Ms De Ronde said.

In the interview, Mr Parker revealed he had apologised to some complainants and even approached one of them in public.

His actions show "an entitled young man in action", Ms De Ronde said.

"These women will have to live with this for the rest of their lives and he should stay well away from them.

"Unless it is something they seek and they ask for, he shouldn't be reaching out and contacting them because ultimately he hasn't had to face any consequences for what went on," Ms De Ronde said.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network president Fiona McNamara.

Fiona McNamara, who runs the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, says the interview does not redeem Mr Parker. Photo: John Lake/The Wireless

Fiona McNamara, who runs the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, said the interview does not redeem Mr Parker in the slightest and only serves to re-traumatise the complainants.

"To have it brought up again and so much of it in public conversation again and to see the ring leader of it, to see his face on TV sort of talking about himself and his experiences, rather than really focusing on the harm that was caused can lead to a lot of those people having to re-live some of those horrible experiences they have to live through at the time," she said,

Ms McNamara said all she can hope for is that the interview generates conversations about consent.

Where to get help:

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

  • Two years on from Roast Busters
  • 'Really sad' women are still harassed, five years on from Roast Busters
  • 'Roast Busters' drives calls for sexual violence court
  • Officer's son linked to Roast Busters group