Cop investigated over rape

A high-ranking Auckland police officer is being investigated over a complaint of rape.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is still serving but over the last few months a team of investigators from Wellington have interviewed him, the woman making the allegation and others.

Police say they are likely to make a decision next week about whether the officer will faces criminal charges.

The case hinges largely on his word against hers. 

The woman alleging rape is a prostitute and claims the officer initially visited her as a client, paying for sex.  

She said those sex sessions happened while he was working, which is a breach of police rules.

Police have no formal restrictions on officers having sex with prostitutes, which is a legal profession, but prohibit  such contact during work hours.

Fairfax Media understands the officer will face internal disciplinary action if this allegation is proven, regardless of any criminal charges.

The rape allegation stems from an incident in August 2010, which happened on the officer's second or third visit with the woman.

She alleges the officer put her in a martial  arts hold which rendered her immobile, before having sex with her without using a condom.

She is unsure if the officer paid for sex on that occasion but she says that sex act was without her permission and against her will.

She would see the officer every couple of weeks but he stopped paying for sex after the alleged attack.

She says she agreed to this because she felt intimidated.

''He phoned a lot just to talk, building up my trust and to gather information about me as well,'' she told Fairfax Media.

His high rank and her fear of the repercussions of stopping the arrangement meant it lasted about a year.

When asked why she did not demand payment from the man during subsequent liaisons, she said: ''I wasn't in a position to demand anything.  He didn't use standover tactics - it was very subtle.''

The woman said he would discuss his marriage ''even showing me a photo of his wife and kids.''

The officer's initial approach came after the woman had made numerous complaints to police regarding home invasions but he had not been involved in any investigation into those incidents.

Months after the alleged sexual attack, he wrote a reference letter to Housing New Zealand recommending the woman be allowed to move to a new address to avoid further home invasions.

The request was  granted.

The woman told Fairfax Media the officer also did her favours - her son had been fingerprinted on a matter and the officer one day turned up with that fingerprint sheet.

Though the alleged offending happened more than three years ago, the woman hoped it would be taken seriously and she explained it had taken her so long to come forward because she had been sceptical that a thorough investigation would take place.

''I was aware he was high ranking in the force so thought they would do nothing,'' she said.

Police said after they had made a decision on whether or not the officer  would face charges, an independent review by the Crown would take place.

The complainant was initially interviewed three months ago by the police's National Coordinator of Adult Sexual Assault, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike McCarthy.

Police National Manager of Child Protection and Sexual Violence Detective Inspector Tusha Penny has come up from Wellington to run the inquiry.

During a handful of recorded interviews with police, the alleged rape victim has been supported by Louise Nicholas, whose own rape claims featuring senior police officers sparked the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct.

Police accepted the Commission's findings in full, apologised unreservedly to victims and Nicholas has been a national survivor advocate for Rape Prevention Education since.

The complainant said Nicholas'  influence had been invaluable through the process so far.

She had given her diary to police and believed they were attempting to uncover whether the officer had been visiting her for sexual services during work time; something she believed to be the case.

It is also understood the investigating team analysed the officer's activity on the police computer - the National Intelligence Application - and found he had searched her file at least 20 times between 2010 and 2012.

Police officers could face internal sanctions for misusing the system or even face criminal charges depending on how information was used.

Until the investigation was complete, police said they could not comment on the officer involved or the circumstances surrounding the allegations.

A police officer close to the staff member said the officer was ''devastated'' by the allegations and it had had a significant impact on his family.

Fairfax Media