Multiple pre-teens in New Zealand have been targeted by the sexual predator in the US. (File photo)
A law enforcement agency in the US is investigating a child exploitation case that Kiwi police sat on for months, Stuff can reveal.
Now, the family of one of the children targeted by the overseas sexual predator have called the police’s lack of transparency around the case “an amazing example of adding insult to injury”.
In April, a father told Stuff he was “sickened” after he found out his 12-year-old daughter was among several Kiwi children who had been convinced to send topless photos of herself to a man in his 20s via Google Chat.
The father immediately contacted the police – who took three months to tell him that, because the alleged offender lived in Ohio, “we can’t take matters any further”.
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However, the same day Stuff published a story about police’s refusal to investigate, police passed details of the case to a national law enforcement agency in the US.
“On 20th April, NZ Police forwarded relevant information to a law enforcement partner in the USA.
“We are awaiting an update on this investigation and will carry out any further NZ-based enquiries as required,” a police spokesperson said on Thursday morning.
When Stuff asked which law enforcement agency the case had been passed to, the spokesperson said it would be “inappropriate” to share this information. She would not say why.
Meanwhile, having not heard “a word” from New Zealand police in six weeks, the father launched his own investigatiion in an attempt to find the man who had targeted his daughter.
“For the sake of $30 and half a day’s worth of work, I had found a possible name for the offender and an address.
“I even managed to contact a police captain in Ohio, who told me he hadn’t heard anything from anyone in New Zealand about my daughter.”
The young girl’s father had begun saving up to visit Ohio and speak to officers in person, when he learnt through Stuff that the case was already in the hands of the unknown US national law enforcement agency.
“I wish the New Zealand police would put as much energy into communicating with victims as they do into issuing public statements.
“It seems to be becoming an all too common theme that victims don’t hear anything from the police until they hear media are involved,” the father said.
He added that any justice his daughter receives will be “nothing to do with the New Zealand police”.
“Someone needs to take responsibility for stopping this guy targeting other young girls, who may be closer to Ohio and at more risk.”
As for the police spokesperson’s claims that providing more information would be inappropriate, the father said: “Is it appropriate to progress a case without updating the family at all? Or closing a file because it’s too hard? Or ignoring emails?”
In the past, America’s FBI has been known to work on international child exploitation cases with the New Zealand police.
Acting crime manager Detective Inspector Callum McNeill previously told Stuff: “We take all reports of crime very seriously. Holding offenders to account is important and any opportunity to prosecute will be taken, however crimes committed online are complex to investigate.”
Sexual violence: where to get help
- Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00, click link for local helplines.
- Victim Support 0800 842 846.
- Safetalk text 4334, phone 0800 044 334 webchat safetotalk.nz or email email@example.com.
- The Harbour Online support and information for people affected by sexual abuse.
- Women’s Refuge 0800 733 843
- Male Survivors Aotearoa Helplines across NZ, click to find out more (males only).
- If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.
If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, click the Shielded icon at the bottom of this website to contact Women’s Refuge in a safe and anonymous way without it being traced in your browser history. If you’re in our app, visit the mobile website here to access Shielded.