Police have launched a criminal investigation into a senior Northland officer after a woman complained he harassed and sexually abused her for years.
The woman has since moved to Australia, and it is understood two detectives are travelling there to conduct an official interview.
They will also begin interviewing witnesses to the alleged crimes, which the woman said took place in another district more than 10 years ago when she was in her mid-20s.
The investigation follows a complaint to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).
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In the complaint, the woman claimed the officer took advantage and molested her when she was in a vulnerable position.
She described how she had previously been a victim of domestic violence, and said the officer later started calling and visiting her house.
“I thought he was kind and thoughtful and just doing his job in the beginning,” she wrote in her complaint.
However she said she became uncomfortable when the officer brought her flowers and invited her on a date, and started calling her ‘Spice’.
She alleges he rubbed his naked body up and down her back, groped her, and forced her down on her bed before performing oral sex.
The woman later feared she was being stalked by the officer.
Police provided a brief statement confirming the alleged offending was now the subject of a criminal investigation.
“We are unable to discuss specifics at this early stage,” it said.
The statement was attributed to an anonymous police spokesperson, and senior media adviser Shelley Nahr refused to say who it was from.
Previous statements have been attributed to Inspector Donna Laban, who is the senior professional conduct manager at national headquarters.
Nahr declined to confirm whether the officer had been stood down from his duties pending the criminal investigation.
“Further to this, an employment investigation will be carried out,” the police statement said.
“As police have the same privacy obligations when it comes to employment as any other employer we are unable to comment any further.”
IPCA general manager Warren Young confirmed the authority would conduct its own independent investigation into the woman’s complaint.
WOMAN SPEAKS OUT
The complainant said she decided to speak out to encourage other potential victims to come forward.
“I believe that there are other women out there,” she said.
“Once his name’s released, I believe that they’re going to come forward.
“He was far too comfortable doing what he was doing, I could not have been the only one.”
She said the alleged abuse had left her deeply traumatised, suicidal and depressed.
She was unable to enjoy a full sexual relationship with her current partner as a result of what happened, she said.
“My twenties were just horrific. I don’t have the pleasures that other people have in an intimate relationship with their partners.
“My partner, who I’ve been with now for six years, who is a loving, loving man . . . There are certain things that I just won’t allow him to do to me, at all.”
The woman said it was encouraging that police appeared to be taking her complaint seriously.
NORTHLAND’S SEX CLOUD
The investigation has left a cloud of suspicion hanging over police officers in Northland.
It follows earlier claims from another woman in the region that an officer repeatedly sent her explicit texts over a six-month period.
They included suggestions she have sex with him, and other messages that were too graphic to print.
The woman in that case said the messages began following an incident in June 2016, where she had been a witness and he was one of the responding officers.
She said the officer called her several times to make sure she was OK, and began texting on a regular basis.
His messages became increasingly explicit over the following months.
At one point he described how he had to pull over and masturbate after driving past the woman.
She insisted she never gave him any reason to think she might be interested, and asked him numerous times to leave her alone.
A senior sworn officer from Northland said the various alleged incidents meant he and others were being looked at sideways around town.
“Every cop here is getting looked at like some sort of pervert,” he said.
“This isn’t fair on any of us.”
He said publicly naming the officer currently under investigation would clear the suspicion hanging over his colleagues.
For legal reasons, Stuff cannot name the alleged offender at this point in the investigation.