Allegations of Sexual Abuse

False Allegations

Nick Wills

The Press
May 25 1998

False charge fails to halt career in law

Auckland - Nick Wills's law degree cost more than the usual blood, sweat, and tears.

Almost three years ago his legal future was nearly destroyed by a fellow student's false accusation of rape.

Yesterday he was back in court but the outlook was not nearly as grim. Mr Wills was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court.

A friend and mentor, Hamilton lawyer Warren Scotter, was by his former client's side and moved his admission to the Bar.

Mr Wills was a 22-year-old science graduate embarking on his second science degree at Waikato University when his life turned to hell in August 1995.

Accused of a brutal rape, he was branded a serial rapist and harassed on campus, losing his job and home at the university hostel.

Mr Wills fought to preserve his future and, with his parents, began a private investigation to prove his innocence.

Mr Scotter persuaded the police to re-interview the 18-year-old complainant who confessed to lying.

Three months after Mr Wills's arrest the charges were dropped.

The police investigation was later criticised by the Police Complaints Authority.

Mr Wills said he never felt like giving up his studies even when a move began on campus to have him thrown out.

``If anything, it made me want to dig my toes in and stick it out.''

Yet he learned some harsh lessons.

``You expect people that are learning the law to appreciate that the onus of proof is on the Crown, and that you are innocent until you are proven guilty.

``But I've realised that people just don't accept that.''

For the remainder of his studies Mr Wills kept his head down at university.

The present New Zealand light heavyweight kick-boxing titleholder got stuck into sport and maintained friendships with people he trusted.

One, Craig Nimmo, who provided his alibi for the night of the alleged rape, was admitted to the bar with him.

Mr Wills, who is working with the Hamilton law firm James and Wells, said his experience had steered him towards a career in litigation.

``I've got to be careful not to be a crusader.

``But whatever position my client is in, it will help me empathise with them.''