Skip to main content

New Zealand outrage over 'Roast Busters' online boasts of teen rape

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
November 6, 2013 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
A file image of Facebook. The
A file image of Facebook. The "Roast Busters" page has been taken down, replaced by vigilante sites urging justice.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Teenage boys in New Zealand have boast online about raping drunken underage girls
  • NZ police say they're unable to file charges because there's no formal complaint
  • Alleged victims are said to be traumatized by their ordeal which dates back to 2011
  • Boys call themselves "Roast Busters" in online posts, videos

(CNN) -- Police in New Zealand say they're powerless to arrest two boys who've caused outrage with online boasts about raping underage girls too drunk to fight back.

The alleged offenses happened two years ago but were only made public this week after local media came across a Facebook site, which named and "slut-shamed" girls the boys had allegedly attacked.

Her face and voice disguised, one of the alleged victims told 3 News: "I just kept blacking out 'cause I had drunken too much... You could say I got raped. I had sex with three guys at one time."

The alleged offenders -- a group of then school-aged boys -- call themselves the "Roast Busters." Until this week police say they'd been boasting of their exploits on a number of websites, including Ask.fm and Twitter, as well as the Facebook site which has been shut down.

In a video posted to YouTube, two boys made no attempt to hide their faces as they told the camera: "We don't choose the roast, the roast chooses us ... They know what we're like; they know what they're in for."

Opinion: Don't blame women's drinking for rape

I just kept blacking out 'cause I had drunken too much... You could say I got raped.
Alleged victim

Prime Minister John Key described the boys' comments as "extremely disturbing and disgusting," but appeared to sympathize with police who say they're unable to file charges until one of the alleged victims makes a formal statement. And despite one of the girls appearing on TV, police say no one is willing as of yet to file an official complaint.

Police say they have been actively monitoring the group since the alleged offenses were committed in 2011.

They say the Facebook site appeared for the first time for a couple of months earlier this year, and reappeared a few weeks ago. Officers had been monitoring the site for enough evidence to warrant an arrest but were unable to find any before 3 News informed Facebook of its existence and had the page shut down.

Police say they've spoken with the boys but they have not admitted anything that constitutes a criminal offense.

"We have interviewed two of the boys [on Monday] again but we're still not in a position to take immediate action," Waitemata police District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle told CNN.

"The online claims themselves are not enough to warrant a prosecution. They might be morally inappropriate and unacceptable to us but we have to deal with evidence that would be admissible in a court of law and we haven't got to that stage yet," he said.

Searle refuted allegations that no action had been taken because one of the boys is an officer's son. The other is said to be the son of a Hollywood actor, according to local press reports.

"NZ Police take any allegations of criminal offending by any of its officers or their families extremely seriously and recent cases have highlighted that police will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate staff facing allegations of a criminal nature and will put them before the court if there is a case to answer," Searle said in a statement.

Police declined to confirm how many boys were involved in "Roast Busters," but said the two ringleaders led a "core group," as well as "an associated group." The boys were attending at least two different schools at the time the alleged offenses were committed but all have since graduated, police said. It's believed they're now around 17 to 18 years old.

Police also declined to confirm how many victims were involved but said it was "a relatively small number" and confirmed at least one had attempted suicide.

"There's no doubt they've been severely traumatized by their involvement," Searle said. Police have been counseling the girls since the alleged offense was reported but have yet to convince any to come forward and file a formal complaint.

"We understand it's a very difficult situation for them -- and it would be a very difficult situation for them if they were to come forward for a court case," Searle said.

There's no doubt they've been severely traumatized by their involvement.
Superintendent Bill Searle

The case has inspired a number of online vigilante groups. Police said they are monitoring online death threats made against the boys and that action would be taken if "anybody oversteps the mark."

Student op-ed argues 'drinking responsibly' may reduce risk of rape

On 3 News on Tuesday evening, a group of five girls aged between 16 and 19 defended the boys as "good guys."

"People know that they are Roast Busters and they go hang out with them and do stuff [... ] I don't think they're rapists, they're actually pretty cool dudes," one said.

Asked whether "drunken group sex" was normal behavior, another said: "It's normal in west Auckland... Not for everybody though it's just the young ones 13 to 15 year olds -- that's what they do."

New Zealand Police Minister Anne Tolley told CNN she was satisfied that "police are doing everything in their powers to resolve this case."

Efforts are also underway to tighten the laws on cyber bullying in New Zealand.

On Tuesday, a new bill was introduced to parliament which proposes a three-year prison sentence for posting material online with an "intent to cause harm" as well as other measures to stop cyber bullying.

"No longer is bullying confined to the classroom or playground -- the digital age has meant tormenters can harass their target anywhere, at any time and the trails of abuse remain in cyberspace forever," Justice Minister Judith Collins said in a statement.

"The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online -- time's up."

CNN's Tim Hume and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT