Police rape victims fight for compensation

Brad Shipton comforts Bob Schollum during their sentencing in 2005. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Brad Shipton comforts Bob Schollum during their sentencing in 2005. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Eight women who had their bid for compensation over police rape and misconduct rejected are vowing to continue their fight.

The women took part in the Forum for Complaints of Police Misconduct, which recommended that the Government should consider making compensation payments.

But Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said there was no basis for a claim or payment, despite some of the allegations being proven in court.

One woman was 20 years-old when she was raped by police officers Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton and Tauranga man Peter McNamara in 1989. The trio was convicted of rape and jailed in 2005.

The woman told Radio New Zealand the eight women were going to do "everything we possibly can" to get accountability from the Government.

Her case was the only one where rape charges were proven, but misconduct was proven in the other seven cases, she said.

Victim advocate Louise Nicholas, who accused Shipton, Schollum and former assistant police commissioner Clint Rickards of raping her in Rotorua in the 1980s, was understood to be one of the victims.

The men were acquitted in that case.

The women began working with the Government in 2007 alongside then-Police Minister Annette King to set up the forum, the victim said.

Crown lawyer Rachael Brown met each woman and recorded their testimony, before preparing a report for the Government.

Labour leader Phil Goff said today that while he was not familiar with the facts of the case, he thought consideration should be given to compensation.

The women were required to sign confidentiality agreements and were unable to discuss the forum with anyone else.

They now believed that was to stop more than 300 other women identified in Dame Margaret Bazley's report on the commission of inquiry into police misconduct from taking part.

"We were always thinking...that it was a sly move (by the Government)," the victim said.

The eight women signed the agreements "to hasten the process".

"You imagine another 300 people joining - it is likely to draw it out for another few years and we were keen to get it over and done with."

The confidentiality agreements were believed to have expired after the most recent letters sent to the women were not marked confidential, she said.

The meetings with Ms Brown were "actually fantastic" but in hindsight the exercise was "a patronising pat on the shoulder", she said.

The women knew only that Ms Brown had recommended compensation, but were not allowed to see the final report or know anything further.

In letters to each of the women, the Government said: "it is not clear that there is any obligation of duty on the government's behalf", the victim said.

"If it's not clear, then from this letter we want clarity," she said.

Solicitor-General David Collins, QC, wrote letters to the women who took part in the forum, saying Mr Finlayson and Cabinet had "seriously considered" reparation but decided against it because it was not clear that it was the Government's responsibility.

"I know this decision will be disappointing. I hope that the opportunity to tell your story and be referred to additional services has been helpful," he said.

The Government had suggested suing the police officers on a personal basis but the women "shouldn't have to", and could not afford to, the victim said.

But the women would continue fighting, she said.

"We're gonna do everything we possibly can. This may sound really terrible, but we were all raped lying down, we're not gonna lie down anymore. This is just not ok."

- NZPA

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