In West Auckland, New Zealand, police are investigating online claims made in 2011 by a group of boys calling themselves the “Roast Busters”.
According to the New York Daily News, the Roast Busters filmed their gang rapes of underage girls and then uploaded the videos to a Facebook site.
Although police have been actively monitoring the Facebook group since 2011, they have been unable to find enough evidence to warrant an arrest. None of the alleged victims have come forward with a formal complaint, and Waitemata police District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle told CNN that the online claims made by the boys were not enough to prosecute them.
Searle said the claims, “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.”
Searle also denied the allegations of a “cover-up”, since one of the boys is the son of an officer and one is the son of a Hollywood actor.
The boys’ claims and lack of action by the police sparked outrage in New Zealand. According to The New Zealand Herald, online vigilante groups are springing up and calling for justice. A group of at least 52 fathers are ready to dish out justice if the police do not take action:
“We are not law breakers or criminals, we are just fathers,” one group member said. “The scum has entered our streets, the police have allowed the scum to carry on, and now shit’s going to hit the fan, and spray all over the police and all over the people’s families, unless the police themselves jump up and take responsibility.”
Prime Minister John Key chastised the young men, calling it “extremely disturbing and disgusting behavior”. He, however, also stated he had “enormous confidence” in the police investigation:
“I can’t tell you why they haven’t taken action, other than I can only accept what I’ve seen them publicly saying; which is they haven’t been in a position to actually legally press charges.”
New Zealand is also making efforts to criminalize the boys’ behavior. A new bill called the Harmful Digital Communications Bill was introduced to the New Zealand Parliament on Tuesday, proposing penal or monetary penalties for “sending messages or posting material online with intent to cause harm”. Justice Minister Judith Collins, who’s backing the bill, said in a statement made by a spokesman last Tuesday:
“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.”
For the Roast Busters, the actions from their school days are certainly permanent. One of the boys was reportedly fired from his job, and another posted on Facebook,“If I suffer any consequences from my past actions then I guess I deserve it. But I just want people to know I am a good person at heart and I have matured and have taken this as a massive learning experience.”