A senior Palmerston North police officer has apologised for "revictimising" a young rape victim through comments he made about her abuse at the hands of a paedophile.
Central District commander Superintendent Russell Gibson, in a letter to convicted child rapist Robin Peter Abraham's wife, described the girl as a willing party to the sexual abuse.
Abraham was convicted of raping the girl and sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2010. His appeal was turned down last year.
The girl was just 10 when Abraham began sexually grooming her, before performing lewd acts in her presence which progressed to rape.
The torment continued for two years, until the victim confided in her little sister and the abuse was revealed.
Abraham's wife wrote to the district commander, Mr Gibson, in a letter recently about the case.
He replied: "There is evidence contained within the file which clearly establishes that the young girl was a willing party to these instances, but as I explained to you, this is irrelevant in terms of the charge."
When the victim and her family saw the letter, they were devastated.
"It makes me question the police system, it makes me question the court system and it makes me question what we call so much justice," the now teenaged girl told 3 News last night.
Mr Gibson told the programme he had used a poor choice of language to explain the law around consent.
He knows a young girl can never be considered a willing party to sexual activity and has since written to the family and apologised.
"I'm deeply embarrassed by that letter. I'm embarrassed that I've caused distress to a family but even worse we are talking about an 11-year-old girl who I may have re-victimised and I'm deeply embarrassed and sorry about that," he said.
Mr Gibson's letter was not the first to upset the young victim.
While on remand awaiting sentence in Manawatu Prison in 2010, Abraham wrote to her family saying he never meant any harm.
The girl's mother, at the time, said the letter had re-victimised her daughter because Abraham's words were "patronising", added to the family's pain and made it more difficult to move on. In the girl's victim impact statement, she said: "Before I turned 10 my life was perfect and after I turned 10 and Robin started doing things to me my life was turned upside down . . . I didn't feel safe at home and I used to hide from him when he came to our house."
The family said her suffering would continue for the rest of her life.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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