Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Rotorua police sex and rape culture


There has been a lot of interest surrounding the Louise Nicholas trial. Here's some background to the police rape culture in Rotorua, which is part of a Government inquiry. This is part one. Part two is here and part three is here
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It's amazing how the same names come up time and time again. Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum, John Dewar, Clint Rickards, Trevor Clayton, Kelvin Powell, all were police officers, all but one have left the force, and all have had, or were alleged to have had, sex with Louise Nicholas, some several times. Most have been charged with offences associated with rape, and all but two have left the police. The two remaining at the police were stood down from duties while they faced rape charges.

Nicholas has complained to two of these policemen that she was raped by their colleagues. It was reported that another policeman "Sooty" Smith, former Murupara Sergeant Warren Smith, also allegedly raped or indecently assaulted Nicholas. One officer acquitted of raping Nicholas has permanent name suppression.

Louise Nicholas used to live in Murupara, which at the time was part of the Rotorua police district. Police officer Bob Schollum arrived in Murupara in 1980 from Palmerston North. Aged 28, he had been in the Police force for three years.

Schollum used to take Louise Nicholas for drives. Nicholas used to babysit his children. They were friends and knew each other well. Nicholas' father, Jim, helped set up the Murupara search and rescue unit and got to know the local police. They would often come around to the family home for a barbeque. They were his mates.

While living at Murupara, Nicholas made complaints against several policemen. One complaint went through three trials in the early 1990s and the accused policeman was acquitted of raping Nicholas in 1981 when she was a 13-year old, boarding with his family. That policeman has permanent name suppression. The judge awarded the defendant $21,300 costs for going through three trials. The first two trials were aborted after the detective in charge of the case introduced inadmissible evidence. The officer was transferred out of the Rotorua area.

The first trial was aborted after the detective said in evidence that a fellow officer and former colleague of the accused had told him he was prepared to lie to protect the man because he did not believe he was guilty.

The second trial, before Judge Evans, was aborted after the same detective said in evidence that several other officers had admitted to him that they had had sex with the complainant.

During these trials it emerged that the complainant had also made sex allegations against serving police
officers but the detective had failed to make a written record of her complaint and advised her not to make a statement.

The case sparked an internal police inquiry and an investigation by the Police Complaints Authority. The officer did not lose his rank, but was reportedly transferred to an administrative post in another city.

Nicholas also complained that four officers had committed indecencies on her in Murupara between 1980 and 1983. One of the alleged officers is Kelvin Powell. In 2004 Kelvin Powell was stood down from his job as the Waikato District Commander after he was charged with rape of an intoxicated woman at her 21st birthday party in Rotorua in 1984. He admitted having sex with the woman, but was later acquitted.

Powell joined the force in 1981 and was a detective by 1983. He took over the district from Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards. Rickards spent four years in Rotorua and did a stint undercover. He was promoted in September 2001 to Assistant New Zealand Police Commander and stood down after the Louise Nicholas allegations surfaced. The court wasn’t told of some suppressed information either. Prime Minister Helen Clark knew of the sexual liaisons and [suppressed] as far back as 2000, but did nothing about it. However Miss Clark did discard Rickards when she approved the new Commissioner of Police Howard Broad. At the time Rickards was facing rape charges, but saw himself as the first Maori Police Commissioner.

In February 2004, another woman claimed she was manipulated into having sex in the mid-1980s with Dewar, Shipton and Rickards. The same year former Police Association secretary Bob Moodie told National Radio he knew of another case involving a female police officer who did not pursue her claim of rape by a male colleague - a CIB Officer.

Schollum transferred to Rotorua in 1986, by which time Nicholas (18) had also moved there with her family after a brief time in Nelson. That year Schollum - along with Shipton and Rickards - was alleged to have raped Nicholas. All admitted havingsex with Nicholas but have since been acquitted of criminal charges. Another unidentified officer was also present at the scene, falsely rumoured to have been Kelvin Powell. A baton was said to have been used in the indecencies.

Former Rotorua policewoman Carolyn Butcher told One News in 2004 that her baton went missing at a police party in the mid-1980s. When it was returned, she was told it had been used for sex.

In 1993, Louise Nicholas complained to the police. The stuff website has reported that it was inconceivable "that the only person she said she had complained to was Trevor Clayton, a policeman alleged to have previously raped her in Murupara."

But that wasn't the case. In 1993 Nicholas also went to the Rotorua police station intending to make a formal written complaint, but was talked out of it by then CIB chief Detective Inspector John Dewar.

While working for the police Dewar was a senior sergeant in Auckland and was transferred to Rotorua as the second-in-command at Rotorua CIB. He rose to the rank of detective inspector, became the top detective commanding the CIB and was also put in charge of its armed offenders squad

Dewar, however did take charge of the case involving Shipton, Schollum and Rickards, from a female detective, after a personal request from his good friend Shipton. However he didn’t take a written complaint from Louise Nicholas until 1995, the year Nicholas went to the Police Complaints Authority.

The police investigation file into the case has been lost since 1997. Court notes show that Dewar failed to properly pursue allegations of pack rape.

In December 1995 Dewar was transferred to a desk job as an inspector in the Auckland control room by former Deputy Commissioner Barry Matthews because police had lost confidence in him. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Barry Matthews is now the head of the Corrections Department.

Six years later the Deputy Commissioner was Clint Rickards. Perhaps he will be looking to Corrections for his next job?

3 comments:

Georgina said...

Hi
Could you please put a link in this post to parts one and two.
Many thanks

Anonymous said...

nvestigate magazine has some interesting articles on this case. Worth a read.

Anonymous said...

I mean Investigate magazine