Woman allegedly impersonated by former National candidate says it feels like 'he's gaslighting me again' with recent comments

A woman who claims former National Party candidate Jake Bezzant impersonated her online using nude images and videos says it feels like "he is gaslighting me again" with comments he made this week.

Tarryn Flintoft made explosive allegations against the Upper Harbour candidate in the first episode of the podcast Whips, Chains and Brains, released on Spotify on May 31.

"Bezzant... used to impersonate me online and would make Snapchats and dating sites and things and would engage in, like, online sex as me and would send nude images and videos of me," she said in the podcast. 

"That was happening throughout the last two-and-a-half years but then we obviously split up and then I found out in the last few weeks that he's still doing it, so we kind of want to talk about it."

When the news broke, Bezzant said the claims needed "to be seen in the context of a relationship break-up" and there were "two sides to every story".

Speaking to Newshub Nation, Flintoft said that statement made her "feel like he is gaslighting me again".

She said wasn't embarrassed to go public about Bezzant's alleged behaviour, but it wasn't her first course of action.

"If this were just the context of a relationship break up and I was just trying to be vindictive, I never would have tried to get him help," she told host Tova O'Brien. 

"I never would have tried to keep it behind closed doors. I wouldn't have gone to the police. And in this instance as well, I didn't go to the media. I put it on my own platform where I could express how I felt in my own words. And it's made its way here. 

"But I think if it was the context of a relationship break-up and I was just trying to hurt him or bring him down, I would have missed all those other things and I would have gone straight to the media even when the police couldn't do anything about it. 

"I didn't go and then upload something publicly. I moved on with my life for the last nine months until it started happening again. And I just felt I'm not going to let him victimise me."

Police investigated, but found they couldn't charge Bezzant because of a loophole in the law. 

"They had to prove that he was intending to hurt me, which through all of this, he definitely knew he was hurting me," said Flintoft. "But I don't think that was the intention there. So that's where the [Harmful Digital Communications Act] fell short in regard to like fraud or anything like that. There was no monetary gain. 

"So I think there's just there's no law that really has kept up with it. Technology has evolved beyond or faster than the law has and continues to do so. And there just was not legislation there to support me."

Tarryn Flintoft
Tarryn Flintoft. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Labour MP Louisa Wall has a Member's Bill currently at select committee which would fix that. 

"People are sharing other people's images without their consent, and as we've now heard from Tarryn, it does harm people... essentially the Bill makes it an offence if you don't have that person's consent." 

Wall said research has shown around 3 percent of Kiwis have had images shared without their consent. 

Flintoft said it "breaks" her heart that people are afraid to stand up when they've been targeted in this way. 

Bezzant has quit his membership of the National Party. Leader Judith Collins said he was a "possible sociopath", and is glad he wasn't elected.

"The whole selection process needs to be looked at… We shouldn't just rely on referees that people give us when looking at candidates, we should look further. People never give you the referees they don't want you to ring."

Bezzant did not respond when contacted by Newshub Nation for a response. 

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