Sex abuse victims coming forward

By Imran Ali


Cops report increase in complaints

Fresh allegations and reports of sexual abuse in Northland are flooding police hotlines following recent sex cases.

Police believe successful prosecutions and convictions in high-profile cases are giving victims, and people aware of abuse in the region, confidence to lodge fresh complaints.

The Far North - and Kaitaia in particular - has recently been rocked by a stream of cases of young boys and girls being sexually exploited by family and friends.

Northland police acting manager criminal investigations, Detective Senior Sergeant Kevin Burke, said two 0800 numbers set up during inquiries into former Pamapuria school teacher James Parker - and recently school worker James Brian Sanders - were yielding many calls from the public.

Mr Burke could not confirm details of the allegations or whether they were connected to recent or historical abuse. All allegations were being investigated, he said.

Parker is serving preventive detention on more than 70 sexual abuse charges involving 20 victims while Sanders, 65, is facing six charges of indecent assault on a female under 12 and one of unlawful sexual connection.

Also, former principal of Kaikohe Christian school Raymond George Melrose this week appeared in court on 10 historical charges including four of sodomising a boy aged 12 to 16.

"What we're seeing is whenever we get a good result [in court], it gives the community trust in the system," Mr Burke said.

He said the calls to police began after Parker pleaded guilty. They were coming from victims of sexual abuse who had seen the work police and courts were doing to bring perpetrators to justice, he said.

"People have been ringing and even reporting about other cases. Police have managed to speak to those victims because they are seeing some action taking place that has given them sufficient confidence in the system."

He acknowledged the support of partner agencies such as Child, Youth and Family and ACC in dealing with horrific cases of child sex abuse.

A community leader who has dealt with victims of sexual offending, Anahera Herbert-Graves, said no society should feel the perpetrators should get away with their crimes.

"Where abuse can exist is where people can turn a blind eye and protect the abuser," she said.

While recent cases had focused on abuse around schools, churches and other organisations, she said a vast majority of cases happened in homes.

Ms Herbert-Graves, the Kaitaia-based chief executive of Te Runanga-a-Iwi-o-Ngati Kahu, said drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, multiple partners, broken families and "artificial" tikanga or people being falsely told not to discuss sexual abuse cases due to cultural reasons, were among reasons such crimes took place.

"If you see it (abuse), stop it and report it.

"Maybe reporting is part of stopping it," she said .

Report sexual abuse by calling police either on 111 or on 0800555111.

- Northern Advocate

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