Louise Nicholas — Kiwi Head Case

January 31, 2004: Three police officers are publicly accused of the 1986 rape of Louise Nicholas. This document provides some background to one of the biggest sex scandals in New Zealand, not only of the Twenty-First Century but ever. (All the internal links have been archived).

This is extremely complicated, but Nicholas was a teen slut who had consensual sex with the three men. By 1993, she had reinterpreted this sordid affair as rape, and reported it to the police, who covered it up. Actually it is easy to use that phrase, but even allowing for the way the police protect their own, this reaction was understandable. People who make any sort of historical criminal allegation have - or should have - little if any credibility without strong corroboration, which in most cases never materialises.

In this case however, the police officers concerned admitted to the sex, and by the time the story broke, one of them, Clint Rickards, was a very senior officer.

Her allegations led to no fewer than three trials which saw all three men acquitted. That was not the end of the story though; the police officer accused of covering up the case, John Dewar, was given a four and a half year sentence in October 2007, still protesting his innocence.

Though Rickards was totally exonerated, he quit the police, retrained as a lawyer, and ended up working at the same courthouse as Nicholas. Also, two other police officers were convicted of the 1989 of a young woman from Mount Maunganui, a case that mirrored the Nicholas allegations. In May 2008, one of those involved, Brad Shipton, confessed to that rape during a parole hearing saying his whole life had been full of “disgraceful, disgusting behaviour”, a claim that smacks of sincerity rather than pragmatism.

Returning to Nicholas, her allegations actually went much further than that, in particular she claimed to have been raped repeatedly by a police officer from the age of thirteen. In 2007, she published a book aptly titled Louise Nicholas: My Story - indeed it is her story, ie a work of fiction. It was written in collaboration with the journalist Philip Kitchin. In 2014 a film was based on this novel: Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story. While police officers can be both sadistic and depraved, it remains to be seen if they would have been so stupid as to do half the things she claimed and count on her not being believed.

Cases of this nature show how difficult it is to sort the wheat from the chaff. Having said that, a statute of limitations would stop all historical cases dead - true or false - but at the same time all allegations need to be properly investigated and the guilty should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, be they genuine perpetrators or false accusers.

One final point relating especially to police officers. A certain type of woman finds the uniform and everything associated with it appealing. This can and does lead to such women throwing themselves at police, a temptation some are unable to resist, which can result in their careers being trashed when their groupies turn against them. By the same token there are some police officers who use their power and authority as an aid to sexual conquest. This can result in genuinely vulnerable women being pressured into sex, and at times to rape. Therefore a blanket ban on police officers having sex with women on the same terms as doctors having sex with their patients would be advisable. It is also most unwise for a male officer ever to be alone with a female member of the public; the proof of this assertion can be found herein.


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