— Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) November 2, 2014
Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus’s report on the investigation into the ‘roast busters’ alleged crimes is an unusual gesture towards transparency in Police process. The ultimate failure to lay charges doesn’t appear to be a result of Police inaction or, over the past year, misguided action. The report describes lengthy, careful and proactive efforts to identify girls who were potential victims and boys who were suspects. One hundred and ten girls were canvassed – each meeting “the criteria that Police had concerns that they may be victims of sexual crimes and in need of victim support”. Of these, 44 girls “were identified as remaining of concern”. This included (1) girls who made disclosures “that appeared to meet the threshold of criminal offending”, (2) girls who “‘denied’ involvement in any sexual activity” but who were identified by other girls, or in some cases eyewitness accounts, and (3) girls identified by suspects, as being involved in what the suspects claimed was consensual sex. Of those 44 girls, five made formal statements to the Police.
There was enough evidence relating to another twenty-five girlsthat they were requested to give formal interviews to the Police. These girls decided not make formal complaints. Their reasons make perfect sense – and those reasons are an indictment more than anything else on “rape culture”. Some were concerned that they could be perceived to be responsible for consenting to some sexual activity and some did not want to give evidence in court. “An over-riding concern”, according to the report, was girls’ “fear of bullying and harassment by their peers as well as the fear of being exposed in the media”. As Malthus notes, girls’ fears of bullying are realistic. “Many girls” had moved schools after being harassed and bullied both online and in person. Clearly, the formal complaints made to the Police are just the tip of the ice-berg of what has been going on.