Facebook flirting before rape allegations

June 8, 2017 | By More

Months of Facebook flirting happened before a disastrous teenage party that has left a 15-year-old girl alleging rape and two men on trial in the Christchurch District Court.

Records of the Facebook exchanges have been put before the jury in the two week trial of the Brooke Christie Rolleston, of Cashmere, and Brandon James Roche, of Papanui, both 20-year-old plasterers.

They deny charges of rape and sexual violation. A further sexual violation charge has been dropped during the trial before Justice Alistair Garland a jury.

Counsel delivered their closing addresses this morning and Judge Garland summed up this afternoon before the jury would begin its deliberations.

The Crown alleges the girl was too drunk to consent to sex at the same time with the two men – an encounter she had no memory of, she told the court – but the defence has said she consented or the men had reasonable grounds to believe she was consenting.

Counsel for Roche, Trudi Aickin, said there had been “flirty and suggestive Facebook exchanges” between the girl and Roche in the months preceeding the January 2016 party at a house near Christchurch. The messages were “highly suggestive sexually” and suggested the girl was not averse to the idea of sexual activity taking place with Roche.

She said: “Alcohol is a powerful disinhibitor. This is a case of a young person, disinhibited by alcohol, who has become involved in sexual behaviour that she later regretted.”

The girl had put aside her relationship with her boyfriend at a party held at her home while her parents were away overseas. She knew she would be in trouble with her parents when they returned to a damaged house.

It had been necessary for her to “construct an alternative narrative” and this had come from friends and had taken place on social media. The narrative had grown as it was told and re-told, said Miss Aickin.

Witnesses had told the trial the girl had “thrown herself” at the two men and had been seen grinding up against them – described as “dirty dancing”.

There was no doubt that the two men had sex with the girl that night, but the issue the jury had to decide was whether she consented, or the men had reasonable grounds to believe she was consenting.

Counsel for Rolleston, Craig Ruane, said: “The complainant doesn’t remember what happened, but a lack of memory is not the same as a lack of consent. People do things when they are affected by alcohol that they would not do when they are stone cold sober.”

He said the narrative had been constructed in the complainant’s mind to explain to her mother what had happened. The story had then developed a life of its own.

There were differing views about how drunk she was, he said.

“She was behaving in a way that indicated she was interested in these two men. There was evidence of her leading the two men into the lounge and down the hallway (to a bedroom).”

Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said there were so many inconsistencies in the evidence given by a group of people at the party that it could not be trusted. “You can’t have any faith in any of them telling you the truth.”

The men said in statements to the police that they had not forced or raped the girl, but the Crown said she was seriously drunk – too drunk to consent. Afterwards, she had emerged from the room naked from the waist down, had difficulty walking or talking, and was sobbing and groaning. She had then vomited and had to be carried back to bed.

Mrs Elsmore rejected the men’s account of being caring and thoughtful of her while the threesome took place. The evidence was that afterwards they had left her alone in the room, while they went out to the lounge for “high fives all round and laughter with their mates”.

After more than an hour of deliberations, the jury went home for the night, and was to reassemble to continue deliberations at 9am on Friday morning.

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