Rodney Hide, David Cunliffe and a “sexual predator”

Rodney Hide has continued his series of columns about a sexual offender with name suppression in Predator hiding in clear sight. Hide states that he believes David Cunliffe did not know the person was an offender when he met what Hide refers to as a “sex predator”.

I was wrong when I claimed that leading politicians knew the name of the “prominent” New Zealander hiding behind name suppression. David Cunliffe did not.

The Labour leader has met the sex predator. “If I had known of the suggestion [that the man was a sex predator hiding behind name suppression], no such meeting would have taken place.” I am sure that’s true.

Hide may be right. But there is doubt over that The above quote is from the Herald last Monday, but on Tuesday Cunliffe spoke on this in a standup Interview. Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB):

Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

Whichever of those explanations is accurate (if either of them are) we now have a problem. This is an important issue leading into an election campaign and because of the name suppression of the offender media are very reluctant to investigate this as they normally would be sure to do.

If Cunliffe did not know of the person’s offending or his reputation (which Hide has previously said was well known in Parliament) before meeting him then it would have just been an unfortunate embarrassment for Cunliffe, especially having just made a strong statement to a Rape Crisis group.

But Cunliffe is unable to clarify if this is this case.

And unfortunately for Cunliffe the alternative and more embarrassing scenario that Soper reported on, which is unclear and potentially contradictory of Cunliffe’s earlier claim, is getting some coverage. And the media seem reluctant to explore this because of the name suppression.

With an election looming the voters should know what the true version is on this story.

Name suppression protecting a “prominent person” is preventing this from being clarified.

And worse, it means that people are not warned about this man’s apparently recidivist predatory sexual behaviour. Hide is right when he concludes:

The sex predator’s prominence is such that Cunliffe was attracted to meet him. Knowing the sex pest’s background and history it’s easy to see why. We are all attracted to and flattered by the attention of “prominent” men.

We have a sex offender in our midst. He has not been shamed. He has no remorse. His prominence makes him attractive for women to pass time with. Name suppression means they don’t know to be wary. His “prominence” means women drop their guard.

Does anyone other than the offender have a responsibility should he offend again? The judge who felt the poor man had suffered “a bit of a cross” by being prosecuted? Our MPs for their silence and name suppression laws?

What would we say to his victim if he attacks again? And, ask yourself, what’s the culture in New Zealand that your answers imply?

The offender is sort of protected from embarrassment.

But women of New Zealand, especially women of Queenstown in this instance, may not be aware of the potential danger that this man may pose to them if they don’t know who he is and what he has done.

Note: if the offender in the case at the centre of this issue is unfairly being labelled a “sexual predator” that can’t even be publicly explored.

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