Roast Buster Beraiah Hales says he is now "one of the most hated people in New Zealand" following allegations he had sex with drunk, underage girls.
However, Hales says he is "not worried" about the police investigation into the Roast Busters, a group of predominantly West Auckland youths who bragged on the group's Facebook page about having sex with girls as young as 13.
Hales and friend Joseph Parker are alleged to have been the ringleaders of the Roast Busters. The pair and several other members have been under watch by police since late 2011 when a 13-year-old made a formal complaint about the youths.
To date, no one has been charged in relation to the allegations, due to a lack of evidence. But the police investigation continues.
Both Parker and Hales have been in hiding since November when their names and photographs were published.
Parker, the son of Hollywood actor Anthony Ray Parker, could not be reached yesterday. But Hales responded to messages through a Facebook page he set up in December. He wasn't worried about the investigation or being charged, saying "... nothing on the videos or anything on Facebook is/was illegal. Why would I be worried?"
Hales directly blamed the media for the situation he was in, and appeared to have no issue with the police.
"It wasn't the police that put it on the news, it was the media. And also the police haven't done anything wrong here ... As long as I know the truth I'll be fine," he said.
Hales was not concerned about the length of time police were taking with the investigation.
"It's still going because how would it look if police announced that it all got dropped, that nothing is going to happen? No one would trust them any more because of what the media has said about us," he wrote.
He described himself and Parker as "the most hated people in New Zealand" and said they did not want to defend themselves against "something that isn't true".
"It's not what the girls say that I care about, it's what (the media) have said ... As I said before, as long as I know the truth I'll be fine."
Hales' mother, whom the Herald has agreed not to identify to protect her other children and family members, also spoke to the Herald through Facebook. She said she was sure the investigation was over and police were only maintaining it was ongoing "because they don't want the public going nuts at them".
"They have no evidence," she said.
"They (the media) have ruined their lives and put a lot of stress on the family, when nothing has been proven ... The public have already made up their minds."
It appeared Hales was trying to make a fresh start outside Auckland, posting a message on his new Facebook page on December 14.
"You may only be born once but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get a second chance at life! New Beginnings," he wrote.
Police remain tight-lipped over the investigation, named Operation Clover, and have repeatedly refused to answer questions about the specifics.
However, they maintain that the ongoing investigation is "comprehensive and lengthy".
"This is a sensitive investigation that will not be compromised by the discussion of operational matters," said Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus. "We reiterate this is a victim-focused investigation that involves a number of young people, and their needs remain our main priority."
Flaws in police investigation
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall conceded the initial police handling of publicity around the Roast Busters case was flawed, with media given incorrect information about the number of victims involved.
Staff could have been sharper, he said. He assigned one of the country's most senior woman cops, Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, to take over the case. She announced a multi-agency team would work together on the Roast Busters investigation, dubbed Operation Clover.
Police Minister Anne Tolley also stepped in, requesting the Independent Police Conduct Authority also investigate the handling of the case. The Herald understands the IPCA has interviewed police who have worked on the investigation.