The complainant at the centre of the Roast Busters scandal has had a "terrible" time since she went to the police and those close to her are worried she will give up her fight for justice.
The West Auckland schoolgirl was 13 when she was allegedly subjected to a sexual assault in 2011 by members of a group of teenage youths known as the Roast Busters.
Beraiah Hales and his friend Joseph Parker are alleged to have been the ringleaders of the Roast Busters, who bragged on the group's Facebook page about having sex with girls.
Neither has been charged because of a lack of evidence, police say.
A woman who knows the teenage complainant and her family said that the three years since the complaint was laid had been "terrible" for them.
"[The complainant] is an amazing kid, I know that for sure. But she went into a downward spiral ..."
The woman worried that because of the time that had passed since the alleged offending, the teenager would "give up".
"She was prepared to fight. Now ... she feels disbelieved. It's taken so long. It's ludicrous. The fact that [she] laid the complaint years ago is disgusting. Nothing has been done about it," she said.
An investigation is ongoing and a team of detectives is collating information. It will be handed over to the police legal unit at the end of next month and a decision will be made on whether charges can be laid.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority was called upon to investigate the police handling of the initial investigation, and also the way they handled publicity about the case.
Incorrect information was repeatedly given to the media about the case, prompting the Commissioner of Police at the time, Peter Marshall, to concede that officers "could have been sharper".
While the report into the actual investigation will be withheld until the conclusion of the case and any court proceedings that may follow, the IPCA yesterday released its findings on the botched handling of media inquiries.
It said a "systemic breakdown in communication" by police led to inaccurate information being provided to the public, however, "no individual could be criticised" for that.
"In this instance the Minister of Police, the commissioner and the public were advised that no complaints or formal statements had been received from any of the alleged victims of the Roast Busters and that was the reason why police had not been able to undertake further investigations or lay any charges.
"This was incorrect," IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said. "... time should have been taken to obtain the correct details from the police files in response to questions from the media."
He blamed the problem on a "collective breakdown in communication as a result of other commitments and time pressures".
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said he agreed with the authority's report.
"Police are very aware of the obligation to communicate accurately to the public at all times. Unfortunately we did not get it right on this occasion and we regret that."
Police Minister Anne Tolley said the commissioner had to take responsibility for the "very basic errors" because no individual at New Zealand Police had been identified as at fault. She said she would make it clear to the commissioner that police mistakes "really impact on victims".