Louise Nicholas ONZM is a New Zealand campaigner for the rights of women who have been victims of sexual violence. In 1993 she alleged that several policemen had raped her in 1984 and obstructed evidence in the subsequent trials for rape.
In 1993, Nicholas gave details regarding her claim of rape to Detective Inspector John Dewar who was in charge of the CIB at Rotorua. Nicholas stated that in 1984 the crime took place in a flat she rented in Rotorua, and she pressed charges against a single officer (who has never been publicly identified). During the investigation, Nicholas named three further men as co-assailants, Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards and former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum. Three trials resulted. The first in December 1993 and a second in June 1994 were both ruled mistrials because of the introduction of inadmissible hearsay by Dewar. (The unnamed officer was tried and acquitted in 1994).
Additional charges against the officers
In 2005, Shipton and Schollum were convicted of committing unrelated rapes at Mt Maunganui in 1989, along with three other men. During their imprisonment for the 1989 rape, as a result of media investigations, the two men and Rickards were re-tried for the rape of Nicholas, and were acquitted in March, 2006. In 2007 all three men were charged with the 1984 kidnapping and rape of yet another Rotorua woman, and again were acquitted.
In a related prosecution, John Dewar, the detective initially handling Nicholas' complaint, was convicted in 2007 of four charges of attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice because he covered up allegations Nicholas made against Rickards, Shipton and Schollum. Dewar said he thought Nicholas was lying and didn't pursue the claims to protect her from charges of perjury. He was jailed for four and a half years.
Alleged coverup and implications for New Zealand law
After the original 1993-94 trials, Detective Chief Inspector Rex Miller was tasked with evaluating Dewar's investigation. He found that Dewar had filed his reports on the three officers without mentioning the allegations of criminal sexual misconduct.
The case was subject to a high level of public debate about suppression orders in New Zealand Courts, and admissibility of evidence after a Dominion Post article in 2004. The evidence that at the time of the trial two of the three men were serving jail sentences for an unrelated rape of another woman in the 1980s was suppressed by the Courts in accordance with New Zealand law. Women's groups broke suppression orders by publicising the details with flyers and on the internet.
After the end of the second case, suppression orders were lifted and there was widespread publicity given to the fact that Shipton and Schollum had been convicted in 2005 of unlawful sexual connection. Schollum is currently serving a prison sentence, but. Shipton was released in November 2008 after serving 3 years of his 8 1⁄2-year sentence. Rickards was suspended from his position in early 2004 and resigned from the police on 22 November 2007.
Legacy of Nicholas
On 15 December 2007, Louise Nicholas was named New Zealander of the Year by the New Zealand Herald due to her courage shown during the rape trials of former policemen Rickards, Shipton and Schollum. In 2015 she was named Anzac of the Year and in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours she was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the prevention of sexual violence.
Nicholas has taken a role in pushing for the recognition of victim rights, advocating changes to name suppression law after a prominent entertainer received name suppression after sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Nicholas has worked as a survivor advocate for Rape Prevention Education.
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- Savage, Jared (7 November 2009). "Sex-offender star allowed to keep name suppression". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Louise Nicholas lands role in govt taskforce". Stuff.co.nz. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2011.