The Dominion Post
May 24 2004
The Main Players
by Haydon Dewes
Police will explain how they are supposed to deal with sexual complaints against fellow officers at a commission of inquiry hearing today.
It signals the start of 31/2 months of hearings that will put police, and the way they have handled complaints of sexual abuse by their own during the past 25 years, under the spotlight.
The commission was sparked by allegations made in The Dominion Post in January by Rotorua woman Louise Nicholas that she was pack-raped and violated with a police baton in 1986, when she was 18, by three police officers.
Two, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton, have since left the police and the third, Clint Rickards, Auckland commander and an assistant commissioner, has been stood down on full pay. All deny the allegations.
Former Rotorua CIB chief John Dewar is accused of having failed to properly investigate Mrs Nicholas' original complaints.
In the wake of the allegations, another senior policeman, Kelvin Powell, has also been stood down on full pay while police investigate complaints of sexual offences. The commission will start its hearing behind schedule, after initial information gathering was delayed by blanket secrecy provisions in the Police Complaints Authority Act that protect the anonymity of informants. In the commission's first public meeting in March, High Court judge Justice Bruce Robertson, who heads the inquiry with Dame Margaret Bazley, said he was unsure whether it could report back to the Government by its November deadline.
A law change was rushed through Parliament to allow commission staff to peruse the files, and was passed earlier this month.
The commission will hear how police officers were expected and required to respond when an allegation of sexual assault was made against another police officer.
Police lawyer Kristy McDonald, QC, will be calling Superintendent Dave Trappitt, for the Office of the Commissioner, as a formal witness to explain procedures.
The hearing should take a day.
A commission spokesman could not say when evidence from those alleging their complaints were mishandled would be heard, because it was still being collected.
Since a call for submissions was made in March, three interviewers have flown around New Zealand to meet those people and record their stories.
The number of people who have come forward is not being made public, as the commissioners try to reassure potential informants that unnecessary information will not be made public.
THE MAIN PLAYERS
Louise Nicholas: Alleges she was pack-raped and violated with a baton by Rickards, Schollum and Shipton in Rotorua in 1986.
Clint Rickards: Auckland district police commander and assistant commissioner. Joined Rotorua police in 1979. Currently stood down on full pay.
Brad Shipton: Tauranga city councillor. Policeman for 18 years, who was based in Rotorua in 1986.
Bob Schollum: Hastings used-car salesman. Joined police 1977, posted to Murupara 1980, then Rotorua.
Kelvin Powell: Waikato district commander, stood down on full pay while allegations of sexual offending in the 1980s are investigated.
John Dewar: Former head of Rotorua CIB. Accused of failing to properly investigate Nicholas' 1986 allegations.
Rex Miller: Retired detective chief inspector who led Police Complaints Authority inquiry into Dewar's handling of Nicholas' complaint.
Bruce Robertson and Dame Margaret Bazley: The High Court judge and the no-nonsense civil servant appointed to head the inquiry.
Rob Robinson: Police commissioner. Promoted Rickards.
Nick Perry: Southern district commander tasked with leading the criminal investigation into the pack-rape claims.
Judith Garrett: Came forward after Mrs Nicholas' claims became public alleging a Kaitaia constable handcuffed and raped her in a police station in March 1988.