Police watchdog investigating sexual harassment complaint against Northland officer

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is investigating claims an officer sexually harrassed a woman.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is investigating claims an officer sexually harrassed a woman.

Police authorities are investigating a woman's complaint that she was sexually harassed by a Northland police officer.

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

A summary of her complaint was posted on the website of the New Zealand Police Conduct Association (NZPCA) - a public watchdog group.

It said the woman was a victim of domestic violence, and the officer in question had previously arrested her partner.

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Louise Nicholas accused three police officers of gang raping her when she was a teenager in the 1980s.
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Louise Nicholas accused three police officers of gang raping her when she was a teenager in the 1980s.

 

The woman claimed the officer later started calling her and visiting her house, where he touched and rubbed himself on her.

The NZPCA summary said the matter was historic as the woman had been too scared to speak out until now.

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

IPCA case resolution manager Sarah Goodall confirmed preliminary investigations had been launched.

"We have received a complaint and are in the process of assessing the matter and making further enquiries before determining how the authority will proceed," she said.

Inspector Donna Laban, senior professional standards manager at police national headquarters, said police had been notified of the complaint and a formal process was underway.

"We are unable to comment further at this stage," she said.

The woman's complaint follows a separate Northland case in February that saw a different woman speak out over explicit texts she allegedly received from a police officer.

They included repeated suggestions that she have sex with him, and other messages that were too graphic to print.

His messages began following an incident in June 2016 - the woman was a witness, and he was one of the responding officers.

She insists she never gave him any reason to think she may be interested.

The officer later suggested she must have no objection to his texts because she hadn't told him to stop, but 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 bull....," she said.

Nicholas herself sparked public outcry after she accused three high-ranking police officers of gang raping her when she was a teenager in Rotorua in the 1980s.

Accused officers Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and Clint Rickards were acquitted of rape in 2006.

A subsequent report by Dame Margaret Bazley found that allegations of police rape during the 1980s were likely to be disbelieved and buried.

More recently, Detective Inspector Mark Gutry resigned from the Counties Manukau force in 2014 after he was accused of raping a prostitute.

The sex worker said Gutry visited her as a client and paid for sex while he was working, which was a breach of police rules.

Gutry did not face criminal charges due to a lack of evidence, but he was stood down from his role while a code of conduct investigation was conducted.

He resigned before the investigation could be completed.

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