The already dubious return to publicity of a former ringleader of the Roast Busters has a sordid twist: Joseph Parker appears to be using the spotlight of TV news as a way to promote his music.
*This story has been updated with comment from Newshub.
Joseph Parker, who was part of a group of teenage boys who between 2011 and 2013 boasted online about preying on drunk girls for sex, has released a video asking for donations.
He’s been on Newshub today, speaking out for the first time, five years after nationwide condemnation of his actions and allegations of gang rape while part of the Roast Busters group. He told them he was “trying to make amends,” and that while he accepted he had done bad things, he wasn’t the monster he was being portrayed as.
However, a video on his YouTube channel painted a different picture. Uploaded on January 19, the video titled ‘patreon promotional video’ was discovered by journalist Jessica McAllen, who tweeted “maybe this is why Roast Buster Joseph Parker is doing the promo spot on Newshub?” Patreon is a platform by which artists can get donations directly from fans.
In the video, Parker said “if you’re here to start an argument or cause a bit of trouble, or send some hate my way, that’s totally fine, you can do that.” He then pauses to yawn theatrically, before saying “just know that you’re not really welcome here.”
Among the other videos on Parker’s channel, one song titled ‘Trophies’ directly discusses the Roast Busters. In it, he sings that he thought he could become famous through his actions in the group. He also covers the notoriety that accompanied the Roast Busters going public, saying he “was finally liberated when I moved to the US and got a call on the phone with no charges.” The song concludes with Parker saying “I feared that when I died, all I’d be remembered for is accusations and claims, and how I’d be depicted on the news.”
Despite an 18 month investigation, police did not lay charges due to the low chance of securing a conviction. The investigation also involved seven girls who made formal statements to the police, and 25 who declined to give statements but were believed to have been the victim of some form of sexual offending. In all, five males were considered by police to be suspects during their investigation. The case sparked widespread revulsion across New Zealand, with marches held to express horror and outrage.
The interview with Newshub is being broadcast over two nights, with the first segment playing tonight, and the second part scheduled for tomorrow. It has been indicated that more about Mr Parker’s motivation for speaking out will be revealed in part two.
Speaking to Stuff, sexual assault survivor advocate Louise Nicholas says the interview is likely to bring further trauma to his victims, and that it was wrong to air it.
The Spinoff approached Newshub for comment about whether they were aware of Parker seeking publicity for his music and donations to his Patreon account, and a spokesperson responded with the following statement:
“We want to make it clear that reporting does not mean condoning. We were aware from the outset of the song Joseph Parker was releasing. Regardless of Parker’s motivation, there is considerable news value and public interest in a central figure breaking silence on a major story.”
“A key part of journalism is interviewing many sources, including those we regard as wrongdoers. This is a story of two parts and tonight Joseph Parker is robustly challenged on the creation of this song and the impact it may have on those affected.”
Sexual trauma counsellors are available to speak with anytime 24/7 via the national sexual harm helpline Safe to Talk. The service is free and anyone who gets in touch can remain completely anonymous.
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