A chief fire officer accused of sexually assaulting a young firefighter by putting his hand inside her underwear and slapping her behind, remains in the job five years after the alleged incident took place.

The complaint against the chief, who the Herald is not naming, was investigated by police who said there was not enough evidence to prove the allegation by a former North Island volunteer firefighter.

The fire chief told the Herald the complaint was "all finished" and he called the alleged assault "absolute rubbish".

However the woman, who was only 21 at the time of the alleged assault in 2015, has asked for a review of the case by police from outside the district.

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She says she has also lodged a second complaint about the same alleged incident with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, after she claims little action was taken when she complained in 2017 about being slapped on the bottom.

The woman claims that the alleged assault took place in the engine bay of the fire station as the woman was changing out of uniform following training.

In her statement to the police the woman said the chief "let rip at me" over an indiscretion he witnessed outside her job as a volunteer firefighter.

"He was really angry. He had a raised voice ... and said he was going to give me a formal warning."

The woman said she began crying and, thinking the conversation was over, turned away from the chief fire officer to continue changing.

A woman who says a chief fire officer sexually assaulted her, said she was humiliated and initially kept quiet because she was worried how her colleagues would perceive her. Photo / File
A woman who says a chief fire officer sexually assaulted her, said she was humiliated and initially kept quiet because she was worried how her colleagues would perceive her. Photo / File

With shorts on underneath she took off her firefighter pants and bent down to ready them for next time.

"I don't know what hand he used but I felt his hand on the inside of my left thigh on my
skin," she claimed in her police statement.

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"He moved his hand to the inside of the vagina area. He brushed his fingers to the side
of my vagina and in doing so moved my underwear towards the centre."

The woman said the hand brushed the skin and then retreated. She immediately stood up, startled.

"He then slapped my ass and walked away chuckling."

Shocked, humiliated and disgusted, the woman claims she went home and told her husband about the alleged assault.

But she says she was so ashamed and worried about what her volunteer colleagues would think of her that she kept quiet.

"After it happened I went back to work and tried to carry on as normal. I loved firefighting and I didn't have the courage to stand up to him or say anything."

The woman claims throughout her time at the station the chief made inappropriate comments such as about noticing that she hadn't shaved her legs, which made her uncomfortable but she had tried to laugh them off.

She made a formal complaint to Fire and Emergency New Zealand in January 2017.

The original complaint did not include the allegation the chief put his hand inside the woman's underwear.

She said there was no official response to her complaint. A week after her mother died suddenly some months later, the woman says she was asked to meet with Fenz.

"They knew damn well what had just happened so I wasn't in any state to be pursuing any complaints at that point."

In her police statement she alleged that the chief later apologised for the alleged incident saying he could not remember it but that he "got in a lot of trouble" for it.

The complainant in an alleged sexual assault case asked Police Commissioner Andrew Coster to authorise police outside the district to review the investigation. Photo / Getty Images
The complainant in an alleged sexual assault case asked Police Commissioner Andrew Coster to authorise police outside the district to review the investigation. Photo / Getty Images

Eventually the woman left the district and relocated for a fresh start, but says the alleged assault and her mother's death left her "broken".

Now 26, the woman returned to the centre earlier this year and a chance encounter with the chief strengthened her resolve to lodge a complaint with police.

In a letter to the woman dated June 2, police confusingly told her: "After looking at all the available evidence we have not been able to find out who is responsible".

Frustrated she wrote to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and asked for her file as well as for the case to be reviewed by police outside of the district for reasons the Herald cannot detail.

Police National Headquarters sexual violence and child protection Detective Sergeant Grant Atkin responded, saying police were identifying a suitable person outside the district to review the investigation of the complaint.

Police would not comment on the complaint.

The chief denied the allegations of sexual assault and said there had never been complaints of that nature against him before now.

He called the complaint a "personal attack" and believed it stemmed from a "personality clash" and because he had reprimanded the firefighter in the past.

"I just don't think she likes me."

A Fenz spokeswoman said: "Fire and Emergency New Zealand takes such matters extremely seriously and we investigate as appropriate".

"However, we won't be commenting on matters relating to individual brigades, or to individual personnel."