“One Apology We Have Yet To Hear.”

A nation feels collective shame and disgust for the incident where a 16 year old youth physically and sexually assaulted a 5 year old girl while she slept in a caravan at a public camping ground in Turangi. Such barbaric behaviour is reprehensible and no reason can be given that could in any way mitigate the boy’s actions. As if in some way taking responsibility for the attack New Zealand citizens both aired their outrage and donated generously to a fund for the injured girl and her family (tourists in a country yesterday declared the “friendliest place on Earth“.) Having seen this public reaction and heard the views of thousands and thousands who felt strongly enough to air them, and having been involved in a litany of cases of disgraceful assaults against children one would have thought our judiciary would have taken a strong and uncompromising view that would reflect the public feelings, and would have stood strongly on the side of the victims. Yet we see this!!!

It’s laudable that the youth felt some remorse and that this should be reflected by him (supposedly) writing a prayer, but I am very skeptical about this given (a) he actually didn’t read or recite the prayer in court, and (b) he didn’t pray for his victim but rather for his own forgiveness. If I’m wrong and he truly felt remorseful, so much the better but this smacks of his whanau (belatedly, it would seem) stepping in and being/looking supportive.

Further, and perhaps even more worrying if we are considering whether and how justice might prevail is the presiding judge chattily commenting on the accused’s natty dress and allowing (inviting) his mother to do the communicating with God thing! Of course this hearing was only an early stage of the pursuit of justice for the wee lady who suffered the horrendous mental and physical hurt but does it set a tone? Should the hearing be about the accused’s state of mind or actually establishing he has a case to answer and putting the victim/s in a place where they know their best interests are going to be served?

There actually seems to be a lack of remorse shown here if it is true, as is apparent by the words of the girl’s parents, that despite the reassurance that the accused appears to have received from the judge he has not made an apology to the girl or her family in spite of the fact that he has indicated he will plead guilty. Is there some point to leaving such an apology to the day he is officially found guilty and sentenced, or would it better serve him if he actually showed his (apparent) remorse by addressing himself less to his own  selfish feelings and more to the incident itself and the irreparable damage he has done to an innocent and defenseless visitor to this, the ‘friendliest’ country.

I must admit here that I have not read or heard the full content of the ‘prayer’, rather I have based my opinions on newspaper reports, but if these are full and to be believed I would share and sympathise with the views of the parents and hold the hope that something happens sooner rather than later to assure them that there is remorse and justice will be done, even though nothing that can be done can undo the horror of that awful day part way through a restful holiday in a country that to all intents and purposes is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and safe places on Earth to be.

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