Allegations of Sexual Abuse in NZ

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The Northern Advocate
March 28 2008

Itís happened again - Tourist in sex attack horror
by Saskia Konynenburg

An English tourist has been left bruised and traumatised after she was dragged from a walking track near Haruru Falls and subjected to a horrific sexual assault.

The attack has left locals sickened and brought memories flooding back of a sex attack on Dutch honeymooners at the falls just over a year ago.

Paihia police are investigating the incident, which took place between 5.30-6pm on Wednesday, and are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the woman or her alleged attacker on the track between the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Haruru Falls.

After the assault the woman, who is working with a local tourist company, made her way to a nearby house.

A woman at the address, who did not want to be named, called police who swarmed to the Haruru Falls area and cordoned off surrounding streets.

The woman said the tourist was still petrified after the ordeal.

"It's terrible, she's very traumatised and shaken. I've just tried to get her to sleep as she didn't sleep at all last night, she's terrified."

She was unable to say whether the tourist would return to England or continue her year-long working holiday.

"We're just going to look after her and offer her support. I've never dealt with anything like this before and it's very hard because we're very attached to her. We need all the help we can get to catch the bastard."

Haruru Falls was the scene of another sex attack, on a honeymooning Dutch couple, in November 2006.

Keith Anthony McEwen, 30, and Christopher Mana Manuel, 27, forced their way into the sleeping couple's campervan.

The victims were tied up and McEwen sexually violated the woman before the pair were driven to an ATM and forced to withdraw money.

McEwen was sentenced to preventive detention and will serve at least 10 years, while Manuel was sentenced to nine.

Yesterday police were back at Haruru Falls, searching for clues and leaving locals speculating about what had happened.

The manager of the Riverside Lodge Motel near the Haruru Falls carpark, who didn't want to be named, said she wished police had told her a sex attacker could be on the loose.

"It's terrible what's happened, it's disgusting," she said.

"I've got two teenage daughters and I don't want them going out alone now.

"I get a lot of backpackers staying here and I've got one girl at the moment who I'll keep a close eye on."

The woman said she often felt uneasy around the "dark and secluded" walking track.

"I had two girls last week whose car got locked in the falls carpark. They said they'd just sleep in the car in the carpark but I said `no way'. It's too dangerous. Especially when you think this isn't the first time someone has been sexually attacked there."

ē Anyone with information can call Paihia police on (09) 402 6102


Description of alleged attacker:

Male European; aged in his mid to late 30s; dark brown hair, about a No.4 cut; a large ring on his right hand; blue eyes and light stubble on his face; spoke with an accent, thought to be North American; athletically built; wearing blue jeans and a navy blue T-shirt with a white circular pattern on the front; carrying a backpack that appeared to be full; barefoot at the time of the attack.