1493026802985 - Woman claims senior Northland police officer harassed and abused her for years

Woman claims senior Northland police officer harassed and abused her for years

A senior Northland police officer brought a woman flowers and nicknamed her ‘Spice’ before sexually abusing her, it is alleged.

More details have emerged about a complaint laid with the Independent Police Conduct Authority over a series of alleged incidents, which the complainant said took place in another district more than 10 years ago.

The woman claimed the officer took advantage and molested her when she was in a vulnerable position.

Her complaint described how she had been a victim of domestic violence, and how the officer had previously arrested her partner after she was stabbed and beaten.

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She said the officer later started calling her and visiting her house, and texted her often to see how she was doing.

“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 described how the officer arrived at her home with wine and pizza one night, and later appeared in her bedroom after she felt ill and went to lie down.

“He undressed himself and got on my bed,” she said. “I was lying on my stomach and froze.”

“He began rubbing his naked body up and down my back . . . I didn’t know what to say or do so just lay there scared and in shock.”

The woman said the officer groped her again on another subsequent visit.

On a third occasion, the woman claimed the officer exposed himself to her and forced her down onto her bed by her shoulders, before performing oral sex on her.

“I felt sick and disgusted,” she said in her complaint.

“I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry but I didn’t want him to get angry.

“After a while he stood up and walked out.”

The woman later feared she was being stalked by the officer.

She was in her mid-20s at the time of the alleged harassment and assaults.

She said she decided to speak out now because she was afraid other vulnerable women may have also been targeted by the officer.

“He was meant to be helping me and protecting me and [instead he] helped destroy me,” she said.

“I am coming forward now because I am finally strong enough to do it and he shouldn’t be able to get away with this.”

OFFICIAL RESPONSE

The woman’s complaint was laid with the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), the government agency responsible for monitoring police activities.

Corporate manager Pieter Roozendaal confirmed there had been a sexual allegation against a Northland police officer.

“I can advise that the authority has been making background enquiries and expects to have a decision on how the complaint will be addressed by the end of the week,” he said.

It is understood the complaint will be discussed at a meeting of the police management team at national headquarters on Thursday.

Police said any complaint made against a police staff member would be assessed and investigated as appropriate.

Inspector Donna Laban, the senior professional standards manager at police national headquarters, confirmed last week that police were aware of the woman’s complaint.

She said a formal process was underway, but police were unable to comment further at this stage.

COPS UNDER CLOUD

The complaint has left a cloud of suspicion hanging over police officers in Northland.

One senior sworn officer made contact anonymously to raise concerns about police management in the district.

He declined to give his name or exact rank, but Stuff was able to independently confirm numerous points he raised about matters that were not public knowledge.

The officer said he and others were being looked at sideways following the complaint, and following earlier reports about a separate incident involving a Whangarei officer allegedly sending explicit text messages to a woman.

“Every cop here is getting looked at like some sort of pervert,” he said.

“We are all being looked at because [the officer] hasn’t been named. This isn’t fair on any of us. I get asked about this while I’m out for dinner for Christ’s sake.”

He said the station where he works was in a panic on Monday evening as it was rumoured that the officer was about to to be named.

“Everyone in here is running around like chooks with their heads cut off,” he said.

The officer said Northland was the most challenging district he had worked in, and added “morale couldn’t get any lower.

“I am looking for other employment and at least four of my colleagues are as well.”

Police Association president Chris Cahill said officers should understand the reasons why someone might not be named, but acknowledged the pressure faced by staff in the district.

“Northland is one of the busiest districts, and one of the shortest on staff,” he said.

“Staff are stressed, and I do understand something like this would add to that stress.”

The Police Association is the union that represents police officers nationwide.

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