Despite national opinion rushing towards Louise Nicholas, with the strange (not)release of suppressed information, I found myself cold to her cause. I’m normally a sucker for mystery information and moral outcries, but I couldn’t play along with the woman’s group anger and email forwards. Unusual.
I was having a strange week. I was coming back after a superbly glorious week off (where I only managed to come into work three times). We had three days to produce a magazine, all thanks to Easter. On Easter Monday I woke up yelling, all thanks to a dream had where I was debating the fundamental tenets of communism with Ronald Reagan. But as I watched the hoards complain about a miscarriage of justice, I could not join in.
I have a running conversation with my girlfriend. She’s done law, I’ve only done arts. And when I found out this piece of information (I assume most know by now), I immediately was shocked – it is a shocking thing to be told, if you followed the Louise Nicholas case in the press. It puts a new slant on things, it totally colours your perception of the case. Your sympathies slide immediately to Louise Nicholas’ plight.
But the law deals only in the facts that come before it. If this fact was known (and sorry to be cryptic about what it is if you don’t know) there would be no way to get a fair jury, or a fair case. Unless there are exceptional circumstances previous histories cannot be admitted as evidence. I huffed, puffed and gaffawed, but my girlfriend was right.
Aside from the fact that three married police officers are pretty damn disgusting for having group sex with a seventeen year-old girl in the first place, what are the facts? An established sexual relationship was in place between the parties involved, before the rape was supposed to have taken place. Which is an indictment on the policemen, not Louise Nicholas. In no way, should that relationship have been in place. I am in no doubt that those cops are rapists – renowned for their vile sexual antics in the Rotorua region.
But even with the suppressed information taken into consideration, I think the jury came to the right conclusion.
Louise Nicholas had several holes in her testimony. What the public was allowed to know, including the testimony of the flatmate, and the witness testifying that they saw Louise Nicholas flash a garter at one of the accused six years after the fact, doesn’t mean that Nicholas was lying, but it certainly raises questions. To counter that however, the policemen involved are far from clean. But where are you left when both sides are far from clean? Not guilty. That’s where.
Nicholas’ past history shouldn’t have been bought into question either, it is not OK for her to be painted a slut by the media. But again this was not the reason for the verdict. The policemen, whether you like it or not, could not have been convicted on the evidence, suppressed evidence taken into consideration, and blatant media bias removed, Clint Rickards and his gangbang of merry-men were found not guilty because the court was doing its job. This said, the case has done its job and Nicholas can merit small victories. She successfully bought attention to the disgusting pasts of three sexually vile chauvinists who used their position to fuck little girls. Rape aside, they still have mud on their faces. Rape or not, it was still abuse of position. And anyone who saw Rickards arrive at court in his police uniform on the first day of his trial would have seen that he was not above abusing his position, twenty years after the fact.
More interesting than this conundrum is the fact that the piece of suppressed evidence that made its way into the light is probably the smallest piece of the information suppressed around the case. We have not seen the last of the Clint Rickards trio, we have seen the tip of the iceberg. And when all the information is released – and it can’t be held down for much longer at all, I suspect – there is going to be another party with mud on their face. Given that the media have known all the information, all along, it brings into serious question their reporting of the case. The continual slant favouring Rickards during the case was bad enough (‘Tears of Relief As Ordeal Ends’ from the New Zealand Herald almost forced my lunch to leave me) but the emphasis on the ordeal being ‘finished’ is false, and puzzling. Louise Nicholas has been heard. But the complications of this case will live on in the press for a long time to come. And when they reemerge, the press have discredited any chance of objectively covering the new events.
So to the authors of ‘We Believe Louise Nicholas’ and other pamphlets and emails, how can you say that? Justice was served. But justice does not always work in the favour of public opinion, because sometimes to protect the innocent, the guilty go free.