On 5 August, the University of Auckland’s Thursdays in Black campaign group announced they had submitted an open letter to the Department of Corrections regarding the mishandling of a convicted rapist returning to the University campus.
On 4 August, Stuff reported that the convicted rapist, who was serving a 12-month home detention sentence for the rape and sexual assault of five victims, was allowed to return to campus after only serving three months of the sentence. No consultation with the victims, the University, or other students the perpetrator poses a risk to, has been noted. The perpetrator is allowed to attend all classes and study on campus. Thursdays in Black Branch Director, Vivien White, and the executive, told Craccum that “Risk assessment has to balance rehabilitative benefits against the public safety interest”.
Thursdays in Black say the handling by the Department was “unacceptable” and “dangerous”. They say that “It’s always disheartening to see perpetrators’ interests being given more power than the survivor and our University community’s well-being”. The Department has “leaned on” the current system of Victim Notification Register, which notifies victims and survivors about offenders to defend their actions; however, this is an opt-in system that requires you to be a victim of a ‘serious crime’ and the submission of personal details.
The group also told Craccum that students have expressed frustration and disappointment regarding the issue but were not surprised at how it was handled. Thursdays in Black say that “At the end of the day, 12 months home detention is outrageous. This was simply a poor demonstration of justice for the five young victims who pressed charges and will face a lifetime of trauma.” The group will be taking further action if the letter is not responded to.