Police ask teens to look out for mates

Police are calling for young people to look out for one another these school holidays after a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a stranger in a park in Flaxmere.

A Samoan national, 30, appeared in Hastings District Court on Monday charged with the rape of the young girl that occurred on April 6 in the vicinity of Ron Giorgi Park.

He entered no plea when he appeared in court and has been remanded in custody to await a further court date.

Detective Sergeant Craig Vining said he has no previous convictions known to the New Zealand Police.

The offender was at large for two weeks before CCTV footage helped to identify him.

The victim had been at a property nearby with some friends before the group starting making their way on foot to another address.

The victim subsequently became separated from the group around the park where the attack took place.

Mr Vining said the public were relatively well-informed about safe behaviour but it was important the message be re-emphasised at a time like this.

"The arrested man is ultimately responsible for his actions, however with the school holidays upon us this is a timely reminder for all young people to look after themselves and their friends. Keep together.

"It's just a matter of being safe, especially when they're drunk - people tend to think they're bulletproof."

He said safety in numbers was still a good deterrent for would-be offenders.

"If you sense a friend is being maneuvered away from your group for sexual purposes, against their will or if they are heavily intoxicated, tell or call someone and make a stand on their behalf."

Mr Vining said the key thing was to "prevent victims from having to go through these harrowing and often life-changing situations".

While the police were focusing on education and prevention, they were also working to get the numbers of people reporting those sorts of crimes up.

"Only 10 per cent of all sexual offending is reported. A lot of attacks are from people known to the victim.

"People don't want to cause trouble within their families or friend groups.

There is also a lot of fear involved. People are scared of dealing with the court system and the police."

A similar incident occurred in Flaxmere Park in February, involving two young girls under the age of 18 who were dragged into a bush and indecently assaulted.

The mobile community barbecue Tunu Tunu visited the park following the attack with the hope of bringing the community together and encouraging people to keep an eye out for one another.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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