Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Roast Busters scandal: Teen left school after incident at party

Green Bay High principal confirms police investigated claims last year about youth's involvement with a young female student. Last night, his family urged him to 'stop treating people as entertainment'

Beraiah Hales left school  in May last year after police inquired into claims involving another student.
Beraiah Hales left school in May last year after police inquired into claims involving another student.

One of the boys at the centre of the Roast Busters underage sex controversy left school soon after allegations were made about an incident involving a young female student.

It is understood the alleged incident involved Beraiah Hales when he was attending Green Bay High School.

While it happened at a party outside school hours, it involved a younger student from the school.

The allegations have not previously been reported in the media.

His parents spoke publicly for the first time last night, urging him to "stop treating people as entertainment".

His stepfather told One News: "We don't think that he's really capable of that sort of thing. He can be arrogant and incredibly silly and an idiot, and the bragging sort of thing is really disgusting.

"To brag about it and to make the people they've been with feel so small, that's the thing that really gets us ...

It's not nice, it's just there to shame people."

After inquiries from the Herald yesterday, Green Bay principal Morag Hutchinson confirmed she was aware of the allegations involving a student from the school, and the police investigation that followed.

"This was brought to our attention in April 2012 and during May 2012 [Hales] left the school ... The school co-operated fully with the police and tried to support the family concerned," she said. She did not comment on the specifics of the claims.

"The school does not have permission from any families involved in this situation to comment on any of these details that you ask.

"We are a school first and we are trying, in very difficult circumstances, to protect some individuals and families who have shared information with us in confidence," Ms Hutchinson said.

She confirmed that Joseph Parker - also at the centre of the scandal - attended the school for one year in 2009 and another teen thought to be connected to the group attended from 2009 to 2011.

"Of those three names, only Beraiah Hales was a part of any allegations related to any of our students while he attended," Ms Hutchinson said.

"I had not heard of the Roast Busters until ... Sunday night."

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A counsellor who worked at the school claims she went to senior management and raised concerns about Hales in 2011, but was ignored.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, she said Hales was known as "a player".

"I suggested that we speak to these boys."

She said she approached a senior staff member, but not the principal.

"Nobody was very keen about doing anything. I didn't get the backing; my hands were tied. I didn't have the authority to do anything else."

Green Bay High chairman Norman Wallace said none of the boys came to his attention during their time as students. "Certainly nothing ever came up at the board level."

In response to questions from the Herald yesterday, police said: "Many of the matters you refer to cannot be answered today as they either form part of the ongoing police investigations or the case file review. There may also yet be an IPCA investigation which will review these matters."

Ms Hutchinson wrote to parents on Monday about the Roast Busters scandal. "We look to the law to protect us all, but especially those who are vulnerable because of their youth and naivety ...

"These events serve as a warning to us all that young vulnerable people are doubly victimised in a situation like this; once by those who exploit them in the first instance and a second time when those same perpetrators use the internet to humiliate them further."

Evolving story

What the police said this week and how their story changed:

Sunday

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott tells 3 News: "None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage ... We've told them [the boys] their behaviour is verging on criminal, if not criminal, and suggested it cease."

Monday

Statement is released at 12.41pm by Waitemata district communications manager Beth Bates. Highlights include:

• A full and thorough investigation has been conducted, but in the absence of significant evidence, such as formal statements, there is not enough evidence to prosecute the alleged offenders.

• Detectives have been working on the investigation since 2011 when a teenage girl came forward to police to informally report what had happened to her.

Second statement is released at 5.30pm quoting Mr Scott:

• Two males involved with Roast Busters interviewed by police that afternoon.
Mr Scott goes on to tell 3 News the reason police have not prosecuted anybody is they don't have sufficient evidence at this stage. Investigators' "hands are tied" until victims agree to make a formal statement.

Tuesday

Statement released at 1.32pm quoting Waitemata district commander Superintendent Bill Searle:

• Strongly rejects any suggestion that the inquiry was affected by the involvement of a police officer's son.

Wednesday

• At a 3pm interview in his office, Mr Searle tells the Herald a small number of victims have been identified. But avoids saying how many complaints have been received.

3 News at 6pm: A teenage girl alleges she was raped by the Roast Busters when she was 13. She told her family and they took her to the police to lay complaint. No charges were ever laid.

• Statement released at 7.17pm: Mr Searle confirms a complaint was received in December 2011.

Yesterday

• Statement released at 8.32am by Ms Bates clarifying total number of complaints: Four girls have been identified as victims, and one has made a formal complaint. Three of the girls were in contact with police in 2011. Another girl began discussions with police late last year. Of the four girls, one has gone through the process of making her complaint formal.

- NZ Herald

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