'Peace and closure' after Brooke's grope apology

By Isaac Davison

The mother of a teenage girl groped by former All Black Robin Brooke says her daughter has gained some peace and can now get on with an important year at school.

Brooke's apology for his harassment of the 15-year-old while on holiday in Fiji - in a television confessional on Tuesday night - came six weeks after the New Year's Eve incident.

The girl's mother told the Herald the apology gave the family some peace and said her daughter "sees it as closure".

"She is feeling empowered after feeling a little bit disempowered, so it was a good way of putting it right. It wasn't out of the question, what we asked for."

After meeting the family last week, Brooke agreed to publicly apologise and undergo alcohol counselling after groping their daughter while on holiday at the Fiji Hilton Spa and Resort on Denerau Island.

He apologised on TVNZ's Close Up, saying he was intoxicated at the time and could not remember the incident, but accepted the girl's version of it.

Brooke will pay $3000 to a charity of the girl's choosing, as well as her legal fees and her airfare to Fiji.

Rape Prevention Education director Kim McGregor said the resolution was a good example of restorative justice because it was a victim-led process.

"[A public apology] takes a lot of courage. It's an excellent example of a person who has faced up ... and come to a positive resolution so that not only the victim can move on, but so can his family. He has two daughters who can now see their father as being honourable," she said.

Dr McGregor said it was important that Brooke acknowledged he was not provoked. "[The girl] must be a pretty strong young woman, because a lot of victims of a sexual incident blame themselves. She stood up and demanded an apology."

She said only 1 per cent of sexual cases - reported and unreported - ended with a conviction, so to get an apology, accountability and a promise of prevention was an "excellent result".

"Most victims do not want the offender to go to jail, they want him to apologise for it and show that they won't perpetrate the same offence again," Dr McGregor said

Brooke told Close Up he did not believe he had an alcohol problem, but counselling would help him find out.

He is also facing a $200,000 civil case from the family of 17-year-old Jordan Whittaker, whom he is alleged to have grabbed by the throat and thrown on to a deckchair. Fijian police are still considering whether to charge Brooke over the incident.

- NZ Herald

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