17 Dec 2020

Roast Busters arrests welcomed by anti-sexual violence campaigners

7:42 am on 17 December 2020

It's hoped developments in the Roast Busters case will bring justice after a "dark time in New Zealand's sexual violence history".

Protesters marched up Queen Street in Auckland.

Protesters marched up Queen Street in Auckland after the Roast Busters case came to light. Photo: RNZ

Two 24-year-old men formerly involved in the notorious gang have been arrested, and a third living overseas will be arrested if he returns to New Zealand.

All three face charges of sexual connection with a person aged between 12 and 16, following a fresh complaint to the police about alleged sexual offending in 2013.

And a criminologist hopes the police are moving away away from presuming victims are to blame.

In 2013, the gang boasted online about having sex with drunk girls - some of them underage.

A lengthy police investigation at the time identified more than 100 potential victims, but police said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute, prompting widespread public outrage.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report later criticised that original police investigation.

Ruth Amato, who organised a march against rape culture in Auckland, said the alleged sexual offending was "something that resonated with everyone".

"Either we ourselves had been through it, or we know someone who has been through something similar and they have received no closure or justice... often people focus more on defending the rapist, than the survivor," Amato said.

The arrests are a positive step forward, although well overdue, she said.

"I hope it can bring the survivors some closure because seven years ago they were let down by the justice system. It shouldn't have taken this long."

In 2014 Jessie Hume delivered a 115,000 signature-strong petition to Parliament, after the police didn't prosecute any members of the Roast Busters.

It called for further rape prevention education, including around the issue of consent - and she said there was still a "long, long way to go".

But Hume also welcomed the recent developments in the case.

"I would hope that anyone else who was affected would feel emboldened, that they can stand up and also lay a complaint," she said.

Victoria University of Wellington criminology Professor Jan Jordan described the Roast Busters as a "dark time" and the first investigation as "incredibly disheartening".

However, she was optimistic that the arrests signalled a shift away from victim blaming culture, including within the police.

"It possibly signals that the police have a greater appreciation now, than they did in 2013, that it's not legitimate to blame the victim in this kind of context but more important that we actually hold the perpetrators to account," Jordan said.

"From 2013, to 2017, with the Commission of Inquiry report into police conduct, the police have been progressively challenged to make some changes in regard to how they respond to sexual violence complaints.

"So we've increasingly seen a greater preparedness to review decision-making around cases, engage much more around the context in which sexual assaults have taken place."

Jordan hoped finally, "the Roast Busters are going to be the ones that get roasted".

The two arrested men, who are 24 years old, are due to appear in Waitakere District Court next Wednesday.

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

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334.

Mosaic - Tiaki Tangata Peer support for males who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse: 0800 94 22 94

  • Two men previously from 'Roast Busters' arrested and charged - police