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Tea Ropati - Rugby League star accused of rape - exonerated


This page last updated July 11 2008

Tea Ropati

Identity suppressed

A man and a woman meet at a bar. The woman has already for hours beforehand consumed a large amount of alcohol and given herself cocaine. The man also has a lot of alcohol. The two flirt, and then depart in the man’s car. There is sexual contact. The man drops the woman off at a taxi stand and pays for the taxi.  The next day she claims she was raped.  The man waits nearly two years before he is exonerated.


The particular details of the case are on the following pages;



Link to News Reports of the Case

Page 1 - Pre-trial reports  

Page 2 - 1st week of trial

Page 3 - Verdict: Not Guilty

Page 4 - Police criticised

Page 5 - Other reaction



At the end of the case the defence lawyer, Gary Gotlieb expresses his outrage at the police - that

·                the case was even brought to trial,

·                the police being too scared to make such a decision and instead “leaving it to the court”,

·                the evidence against his client appears to have been influenced by “recovered recall” with the help of a psychotherapist;

·                a new police sexual assault team was out to make a name for itself, and

·                the police were less than honest in dealing with the defence.


This site shares all of the concerns that Gary Gotlieb expressed. A man was needlessly put through the anguish of a criminal trial, under laws that do not adequately protect the innocent.



This site has serious concerns
relating to this case:

·                It is repugnant that the man should have been charged on the basis that the woman was incapable of making her own decision

The accused and the complainant were both adults and responsible for their own actions. They were both intoxicated, brought about by their own actions, and the woman also admitted taking cocaine. However all of the women’s friends bar one
thought she was all right because she could function quite well. Both accused and complainant were similarly capable, and able to make their own decisions

New law changes dating to 1995, allow for people to be charged if the person who has had sex cannot genuinely consent because of alcohol. But these laws were introduced to protect women from being deliberately fed alcohol (“drug rape”). The events in this case were quite different.

·                The police either do not understand, or took insufficient regard to the issue of “recovered memory” when dredged up with the “assistance” of counsellors

Gary Gotlieb outlined that the first statement was made 14 hours after the event, and there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Five weeks later after an ACC sensitive claims application, talking to her friends and the police and at least two sessions with a psychotherapists bar she made another statement. Gotlieb politely called this a “bloody nonsense”

The reality is that the first statement is likely to be the most accurate. After the history of the five weeks, it is likely that the complainant’s memory has been hopelessly compromised by her search for memories. This observation is supported by the woman herself saying that she had thought of going to a hypnotist to help her retrieve more memories.

·                The police are far too reluctant to make their own decision to make a decision to close a rape investigation when the dangers of a miscarriage of justice should be obvious.

It may be that the police have been affected too much by the high profile allegations of rape by serving police officers, and do not want to be seen as condoning the crime.  It may be, as Gary Gotlieb suggested that the new adult sexual assault team were out to prove themselves, with a high profile accused man. It may be that the police have insufficient training or knowledge to understand issues of false allegations.

But the standard police response that they should “leave it to the court to decide” is simply not good enough for all allegations of rape. False allegations are real and far too frequent, and are a significant proportion of rape allegations, despite unsubstantiated rhetoric from Rape Crisis advocates.

The problem with always “leaving it to the court” are the consequences for the innocent. In this case the accused had to endure a 19 month waiting time for the case to be heard. The mental anguish is significant. The costs of a defence are also huge.

If the possibility of a conviction is very small, as the police officer in charge of this case admitted, the police should balance their duty of care to the innocent accused alongside their duty of care to provide justice for victims of rape. 

·                The police did not adequately consider that the accused may have been innocent

This is highlighted by Detective Senior Sergeant Beard proudly asserting that the new adult sexual assault squad were continuing to support the “victim” after the trial. It should have been extremely obvious at the end of the trial that the real “victim” in the trial was the accused man.  While this site supports police actions in continuing to support complainants, the language of the senior police officer betrays his bias, which presumably occurred during the investigation.

·                New Zealand law does not adequately protect the innocent

Tea Ropati said
that he never doubted that he would be found innocent, because he “was honest and up front at all times with everyone concerned”. This site believes such a belief is probably born of naivety rather than reality.

This site is concerned about laws that allow men to be convicted of sexual offences with no more evidence than the word of the complainant. In such circumstances, the result is probably more a result of chance and/or whether the complainant or the accused appears more believable to the jury.

Gary Gotlieb refers to the law in the 38 years he has been working on rape trials going ‘‘so anti-male, it’s not funny’’. This site agrees.

·                This site endorses the call from high profile lawyer Barry Hart that a Commission of Inquiry is required to consider and make improvements to police investigations.