Whangarei woman speaks out over explicit texts, allegedly from police officer
A Northland woman feels she has been let down by police after an officer allegedly sent her repeated explicit texts over a six-month period.
They include repeated suggestions that she have sex with him, and other messages that are too graphic to print.
The woman, in her early 20s, insists she never gave the Whangarei officer any reason to think she may be interested.
His messages began following an incident in June 2016 - the woman was a witness, and he was one of the responding officers.
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She said she gave her name and number, and the officer called several times following the incident to make sure she was OK.
"Then weeks later he started texting me, which I thought was weird, but then the messages got creepy," she said.
The woman produced dozens of texts between the pair.
Fairfax New Zealand has chosen not to publish any details that would identify either of them.
Messages toward the end of June included comments on the woman's physical appearance after they crossed paths at the Whangarei police station.
"You look gooood today," the officer texted.
"The only thing wrong with that dress is it's too long."
His messages became increasingly explicit over the following months, including telling the woman she gave him erections, and asking if she had ever had sex in a police car.
At one point he described how he had to pull over and masturbate after driving past the woman.
The woman said she initially ignored his texts, but when they didn't stop she tried to make it clear she wasn't interested.
"I should have said something sooner but I'm finding your texts a bit awkward and don't really know what to say to you," she messaged.
"Can you please stop texting me."
The woman is adamant she never led the officer on.
"I have never been alone with him," she said.
"I have never been with him in any way, not even a kiss. I have never had any contact that he could have misunderstood."
'HE SHOULDN'T BE DOING IT, FULL STOP'
The officer later suggested she must have no objection to his texts, because she hadn't told him to stop any earlier.
Victim advocate Louise Nicholas said that was no excuse.
"She doesn't have to tell him to stop. He shouldn't be doing it, full stop. That line of defence is bulls....," she said.
The woman said she didn't know where to turn to get the officer to stop texting her.
"I was too scared to complain [because] Whangarei police have such a bad reputation for harassment of people who complain," she said.
The woman warned the officer she would tell someone about his messages if they didn't stop.
Stuff learned of the situation later in 2016, and began making enquiries.
The officer reacted angrily following chatter among his police colleagues about the anonymous sexter in their midst.
"Everyone's asking who it is and talking about it at work," he messaged.
"This will look really bad for you. Leading a cop on who's just trying to help you.
"You don't want me to lose my job, do you?"
Nicholas said it was unacceptable for police to abuse their power over members of the public.
"There has been hard work from within New Zealand police to change this culture, and do the right thing," she said.
"It's really disappointing and heartbreaking that once again we have a situation like this."
'EXTREMELY SERIOUS' ALLEGATIONS
Superintendent Russell Le Prou, Northland district commander, said he was concerned by the woman's account.
"Allegations of this nature are extremely serious and naturally police want to launch an investigation as soon as possible to establish whether the allegations can be corroborated," he said.
"We have offered to send an independent female investigator from out of District to investigate the allegations."
However, the woman said that when she contacted senior police professional conduct manager Inspector Donna Laban initially, there was no promise of an external investigation.
Laban hedged when asked who would investigate if the woman laid an official complaint.
"We can certainly look at the issues you raise and then assess whether the complaint is best investigated outside of the District," Laban wrote in an email exchange.
The woman said she felt police were more interested in saving their reputation than addressing her concerns.
She feared the matter would be swept under the carpet if it was returned to the officer's Whangarei colleagues for investigation.
"They showed no interest in my concerns about an out of town investigation until [media] got involved," she said.
"They are now [trying] to protect themselves from public perception."
Le Prou later contacted the woman directly to offer to personally arrange an independent investigator from another police district.
"If one of my officers is causing you distress then I want this to stop immediately," he wrote in an email.
But the woman said it was too late, and she had "no trust left" in police.
Police are unable to investigate the matter any further, as the woman has refused to provide the officer's name.
Nicholas said she hoped the woman could be encouraged to make an official complaint, for the sake of any other potential victims.
"If an officer is sending texts like that to one person, then the chances of him also sending them to another person is high," she said.
Police have also urged the woman to consider laying a complaint via the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
She has declined that route also, over fears the IPCA is not fully independent from police.