Former Roast Buster ringleader Joseph Parker has opened up about his role in the abhorrent group sex sessions with drunk, underage west Auckland girls between 2011 and 2013.
New Zealanders in their thousands marched in the streets in November 2013, after the group of teenage boys were exposed for bragging online about the girls they claimed to have slept with.
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Speaking exclusively to Newshub while briefly back from his home in Los Angeles, 23-year-old Mr Parker says it's time to face up to his fears.
"One of my main goals is to live a life that has value to others... you can't impact people if you are running from something, and this moment here is what I was running from."
The son of Hollywood actor Anthony Ray Parker, he reckons he's changed "mentally and spiritually" since he went to live in the United States four years ago.
"By doing this interview, I understand some of the people who I've hurt will be exposed to the past again... but I hope they can see there is a change in my heart and they can see I am trying to make amends and make it better."
Newshub has gone to extensive efforts to contact as many of the Roast Busters' victims as possible, to alert them the former ringleader was speaking out about the damage he caused.
For two years, 16-year-old Mr Parker and four other west Auckland boys publicly indulged in group sex sessions with often drunk girls, some as young as 13.
The name Roast Busters, he says, was a "brand they felt they had to live up to".
"It was pretty much a show-off thing, a boasting brag thing that we thought would last a day or a week or something like that... it made me want to do it more because of the attention I was getting."
He admits as a "selfish and self-absorbed" teenager, he was influenced by music video bad boys.
A Facebook video and online comments named and shamed a number of west Auckland girls, and Mr Parker says he took the video down before the story first hit the news, because "I didn't think it represented who I wanted to be".
Police conducted a year-long investigation into the Roast Busters after the story broke; 110 young women were canvassed.
Seven female victims and five suspects were identified as part of Operation Clover, but no charges were ever laid.
Mr Parker maintains while the Roast Busters were not saints, "we were not the monsters people thought we were, and we did not do a lot of things people thought we did".
The officer in charge of Operation Clover, Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, said it was "a carefully considered decision taking into account a range of factors" such as the need for "a reasonable prospect of conviction for police to prosecute, the wishes of individual victims, admissible evidence available, the nature of the offence and the age of the parties at the time of the offending".
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) found victims had been previously let down by police during a 2011 investigation.
It said there was "a failure to undertake basic investigative tasks" and officers didn't consider "all available offences in reaching their decision not to charge".
Mr Parker claims he has since been in touch with some victims, although others have not received his messages.
One, who made a formal complaint to Police as a 13-year-old, told Newshub "he can explain himself as much as he likes, but he's done his damage".
Now aged 20, she says: "Good on him for trying to make a change but I don't really know how to take him doing this, he's been living over there in the States and we've been back here still dealing with it - it affects me to this day."
LA-based Mr Parker says he now understands he "put them through a lot of hurt and pain".
"I can only try to understand the hurt they have been put through, but I don't think I will fully understand because I am not them," he said.
And he knows full well, with no time limit on reporting sexual offending, future charges by Police are not out of the question.
Part two of the story will air on Tuesday.
Where to find help and support:
Anyone affected by sexual harm can contact Safe to talk. It's for survivors, concerned whānau and people who have harmed others or who may be thinking about harming others.
Safe to talk is available 24 hours, seven days a week by:
- Calling: 0800 044 334
- Texting: 4334
- Emailing: email@example.com
- Live webchat on www.safetotalk.nz that also has a range of great resources and information about sexual harm.