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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Outrage at result of police-rape trial

The outrage over the police-rape case is palpable and almost universal. In one (admittedly unscientific) poll carried out by the Stuff website, 80% do not believe Rickards should get his job back - that is because 80% think he is guilty. The juries were clearly misled and manipulated in the two trials Rickards faced.
Louise Nicholas testified that as a teenager she was forced to have sex with Rickards and his two former associates. The most horrific act she described occurred in a Rotorua flat where the three men serially raped her and then a police baton was forcibly inserted into her vagina and her anus by one of the policemen (Shipton) while Rickards and the other policeman (Schollum) cheered him on from the sidelines.
Rickards admitted having so-called 'group-sex' with the 18 year-old Nicholas. The story the three accused rapists tell is that the the sex was consensual and the baton incident never took place despite two other policemen testifying that such an abhorrent event was boasted about at the time.
She says she was raped, they say she wasn't - it was down to whose word you could take as true, and New Zealand juries, faced with such a choice, will more often than not believe the police.
EXCEPT that two of the accused (Shipton and Schollum) had already been found guilty of a chillingly similar rape and were in jail serving eight-year sentences for that. The rape which Shipton and Schollum were convicted on also involved the use of a police baton to sexually assault their victim. This was legally-suppressed information. How could any jury accept their denials in the Louise Nicholas case, or in the most recent case involving an unnamed women, if the jury members had been made aware of this extremely pertinent fact?
Our rage is due to our perfectly reasonable belief that justice was not done, nor seen to be done, in these trials. The accused got away with, not murder, but a crime equally repugnant - and the people committing the crime were the ones we turn to for help when a crime is committed against us.
Not only women are outraged; all men who have any sense of justice are equally appalled at the actions of these policemen and the "not guilty" verdicts.
The other great concern is that such a man as Rickards could rise so high in the police hierarchy. Police culture needs to change, and change rapidly and thoroughly. Lets hope the current police leadership, the ones who rightly prosecuted Rickards and his mates, clean out the stables with a large broom and a high pressure hose.
The thought of Rickards returning to his job in charge of the Auckland Police District is too deplorable to contemplate. He should be drummed out of the police completely.

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