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New Zealand government orders new investigation into online ‘rape club’

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The New Zealand government ordered an independent inquiry Thursday into allegations that police botched an investigation into an online “rape club” that preyed on underage girls.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said the case, which has sparked outrage in New Zealand, had been “poorly handled” and she had asked the police watchdog to conduct an inquiry.

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“I believe this is the right course of action to ensure the public has confidence in the police on this matter,” she said after meeting Police Commissioner Peter Marshall on Thursday.

The case centres on a gang of young males calling themselves “Roast Busters”, who boasted online about plying girls as young as 13 with alcohol then having group sex with them.

The Auckland-based group, most believed to be aged in their late teens, reportedly used Facebook to meet the girls then posted comments and videos on the social media site bragging about their exploits and humiliating their victims.

When the story broke earlier this week, Prime Minister John Key called the group’s alleged actions “abhorrent” but said it was difficult for authorities to prosecute them due to a lack of hard evidence.

Police at the time said they had been aware of the group for two years but took no action because none of its alleged victims was willing to testify against them.

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But it has since emerged that four girls complained to police as far back as 2011, including one who made a formal statement featuring video testimony about what she endured.

That girl, her identity obscured, told TV3 on Wednesday evening that she did not feel police were supportive and they focused on why she wore a skirt when she met members of the group in 2011.

“They said that I didn’t have enough evidence to show, because I went out in clothes that was pretty much asking for it,” said the girl, who was aged 13 at the time.

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Tolley said the police treatment of the girl would be part of the Independent Police Conduct Authority inquiry.

“Parents of young girls need to have confidence that complaints to police about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and appropriately,” she said.

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Victims’ rights advocates such as Greens MP and former sexual abuse counsellor Jan Logie have said that if the claims made by Roast Busters members are true then it amounts to a “rape club” and they should be charged accordingly.

Police superintendent Bill Searle said officers were now reviewing evidence and hoping to speak to victims again to see if a prosecution was possible.

“We will look at the whole evidence, at the time, to make a proper assessment,” he told Radio New Zealand.

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Searle said investigators were aware “very early on” that one of the alleged gang members was the son of a police officer but the fact had no bearing on how the case was handled.

Watch a report on the police’s failure to investigate the “Roast Busters,” as posted online on Monday, below.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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GOP senator refuses to answer questions on impeachment witnesses when reporter corners him in airport

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Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) this week refused to directly answer questions about witnesses at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial after getting cornered at an airport by a local reporter.

Steve Staeger, a reporter with Colorado-based news station 9News, confronted Gardner at Dulles International Airport on Thursday night and asked him about whether he'd be open to allowing new witnesses at Trump's Senate trial, which is due to start this coming Tuesday.

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Robert Hyde, a Trump-loving Republican congressional hopeful from Connecticut who was implicated in text messages with former Rudy Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas, posted a bizarre conspiratorial rant on Friday in which he claimed to have been set up by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

In a video posted on his own Twitter account, Hyde accused Schiff of trying to "f*ck with me" by having a man pretending to be a Ukrainian operative contact him about surveilling and possibly either kidnapping or assassinating former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

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The View’s Meghan McCain changes topic from GOP senator’s slur to Democratic senator’s clothes

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"The View" co-host Meghan McCain changed the subject from Arizona's Republican senator rudely rejecting a reporter to the clothing worn by the state's Democratic senator.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) called CNN's Manu Raju a "liberal hack" after he asked her about new impeachment evidence, and McCain made clear she hadn't been elected to her seat.

"She's actually appointed, she didn't win that seat," McCain said. "I think that's important."

"She didn't earn it in the traditional sense of votes, it's an extremely tight race," she added. "Arizona could turn blue which would -- pigs may start flying around the studio if that ends up happening. She is fundraising off of this with Trump supporters but unfortunately there's a lot of states like Utah, Arizona (and) Nevada that I think people just assume are going to be full red forever, and it's not. It's very independent and fringy, and I think there's a reason why it has such a long history within Arizona with people like Barry Goldwater. I think she's playing her cards completely wrong."

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