Roast Busters: Radio show hosts 'victim blaming'

By Patrice Dougan, APNZ staff

Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales have boasted  online of their actions.
Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales have boasted online of their actions.

RadioLive hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have been accused of "victim-blaming'' over their line of questioning of a young woman who is friends with a Roast Busters group victim.

The 18-year-old woman, who went by the name Amy, rang into their RadioLive show today to discuss what she knew of the activities of the gang, which boasted online about getting underage girls drunk and having sex with them before naming and shaming them on a Facebook page.

Jackson and Tamihere asked her why and how much the girls had been drinking, and why they were out late at night.

"The other side comes to it, were they willing drinkers?''

They also questioned why the girls, some as young as 13, had not made formal complaints to the police, asked "how free and easy are you kids these days?'', and asked Amy what age she had lost her virginity.

They also described the Roast Busters' actions as "mischief''.

Jackson and Tamihere also implied that some young girls who had consensual sex with the young men may now "line up and say they were raped as well''.

Amy said she believed those involved were rapists, which was met with a small laugh by the hosts, who then said: "Well if some of the girls have consented that doesn't make them rapists, right?''

Many on social media were angry with the pair, calling for them to be fired or to step down from their positions.

One Twitter user described it as "seriously gross'', while others said it was "horrific''. One said they were "filled with rage over this''.

Joshua Drummond said: "I'm struggling to find words to describe how terrible this interview with a friend of an alleged rape victim is.''

Media commentator Russell Brown tweeted: "Honestly, that Willie & JT thing was the worst thing I have ever heard on the radio. Ever.''

Blogger Giovanni Tiso tweeted that he was "crying with rage'' by the end of the interview, adding: "I don't think I have heard anything like that in my life ... The hosts need to go.''

On the RadioLive website the comment section below the audio clip of the interview was filled with listeners angry with what they had heard.

"This is rape culture in action. Question the victims, insinuate the blame lies win (sic) them. Disgusting,'' James posted.

"The two of you should be so ashamed of how you spoke to this young woman. How dare you ask her about her virginity. How dare you question her about why the girls involved have not reported. Perhaps your questioning plays into that? Why would any woman feel safe reporting their experience when this is the way they're treated when they do speak out? You are part of the problem.''

Mediaworks issued a statement saying: "As was made clear many times during today's show we in no way condone the reprehensible actions of the `Roast Busters'.

"Today's show asked why after two years there had not been a vigorous police investigation, and sought to understand better why no complaints have been laid.

"Many callers with first-hand experience phoned to talk about their experiences and we were really amazed by their honesty and ease when talking about a very sensitive subject.''

Earlier today, Auckland police rejected suggestions an inquiry into the "Roast Busters'' group was affected by the involvement of a police officer's son.

Waitemata police district commander Superintendent Bill Searle said any allegations of criminal offending by police officers or their families were taken extremely seriously.

"Recent cases have highlighted that police will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate staff facing allegations of a criminal nature and will put them before the court if there is a case to answer.''

The investigation into the group's actions continues. Two of the young men spoke with police yesterday afternoon and that information is now being assessed by the enquiry team.

A Senior Detective independent from the investigation has been brought in from outside the Waitemata District to provide extra support, Mr Searle said.

Police were aware of a number of social media sites created by vigilante groups threatening violence towards members of the Roast Busters group and cautioned them against taking the law into their own hands.

"We understand the outrage that this group has caused, however violence will not be tolerated and we will take firm action against anyone inciting, threatening or using violence against these people,'' Mr Searle said.

Police yesterday confirmed one of the men involved in the group was an officer's son.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said she understood how frustrating it had been for police not to be able to take action.

She said police and justice systems were "very much changed from early days'' so that there was an enormous amount of support for women who came forward over sexual offences.

"I know that police have been making sure that that was available to these young girls but it's a difficult thing for young women to come forward and talk about what's happened to them. It's embarrassing it's frightening the legal system itself can be overwhelming.

"So I think we just have to continue to urge them and their families to get the courage to come forward and enable the police to take action.''

Read coverage of the issue from earlier today here

Meanwhile, Labour says serious questions remain unanswered by Justice Minister Judith Collins and Police Minister Anne Tolley over the alleged activities of the Roast Busters group.

"The public are absolutely right to question why, after two years of the police being aware of the behaviour, they have been unable to translate their investigation into action against the alleged offenders,'' Labour's police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said.

"The issue of consent is not relevant when a 13-year-old is involved - that is a child protection issue, plain and simple. If the police have advised ministers of problems with the law, then the ministers must front up,'' she said.

The public needed assurance that everything was done that could have been and that police were given the resources they needed to fully investigate.

Justice spokesman Andrew Little said the public deserved some answers from Ms Tolley and Ms Collins and the victims deserved to know the justice system was there to support and protect them.

The Government today introduced anti cyber-bullying legislation to Parliament which it said would give victims of groups like the Roast Busters a "safe haven'' to lay a complaint.

Under the legislation victims would have the ability to get help from an advocate such as NetSafe who would then be able to intercede and get host websites to remove offensive posts.

"In addition to that, if it needs to go further, then a district court will be able to order those items removed. That means that victims now have somewhere to go, because most of the victims that we're talking about are teenagers who generally don't know where to go,'' Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand this morning.

Prime Minister John Key called the Roast Busters' actions "disturbing'' and "abhorrent'', and said he had enormous confidence that the police were thoroughly professional.

"If there is criminal wrongdoing that they can follow up on and take action, then I'm absolutely confident that they'll do their job and do it as ... thoroughly professionally.''

"I can't tell you why they haven't taken action, other than I can only accept what I've seen them publicly saying; which is they haven't been in a position to actually legally press charges.

"That's of course one of the challenges in these areas for the police, is that you require someone to actually come forward. And the counter argument there is that is extremely difficult terrain for a young woman. I mean she'll be of an age that's both a- underage, b- she'd have to go through all that public process. It's really difficult for these young women coming forward, so you can kind of see the bind that the police are potentially in,'' Mr Key told TV3`s Firstline.

- APNZ

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