Former manager of Wellington musicians accused of sexual assault speaks out

A former manager for some of the Wellington musicians accused of numerous sexual assaults has spoken out about why he distanced himself from the group.

His comments come as bars and clubs around the city move to ban the group from their venues.

The ex manager, who the Herald will not be naming for legal reasons, said he managed part of the group several years ago, but recently cut ties with them after an incident where a female friend was allegedly harassed.

A team of at least 12 Wellington detectives are investigating claims of sexual assault, drugging and violence after at least 60 people posted on social media about their alleged experiences with the men.

While multiple testimonies were shared on Instagram, police yesterday said they had only received a small number of official complaints so far. They are encouraging others to come forward with their complaints.

The former manager told the Herald he had nothing to do with the alleged crimes, and that he has not been associated with the group for at least a year.

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He cut all ties with them several months ago after an alleged incident where one of the men contacted a woman he knew and began sending messages.

The videos contained messages “basically just saying how much of a better life he could give her over her boyfriend”.

He said he ended up calling the man to confront him about the behaviour.

“They reacted in a completely absurd way … showing no remorse, basically coming up with excuses for their actions.”

He felt the man and the other members of the group had become “a bit detached from reality and what respecting women actually meant”.

“In all honesty I think their egos got too big.”

That was the only time he had seen any behaviour of that type. He said he was shocked at the extent of the allegations currently being made.

“I mean, come on, nobody can prepare themselves for that shit.”

He said the claims were a wake-up call to all in the local music industry who “hold the power”.

“They need to realise that they’re still living in reality and they need to treat females and males that they meet with equal respect regardless of their position and power.”

Musicians banned from local bars

Bars and clubs around Wellington have begun speaking out by saying they will ban the group of musicians from their venues.

Hospitality Group Wellington owner Matt McLaughlin said the group would be banned from his three venues.

“Look, we don’t want that kind of behaviour in Courtenay Place and I certainly don’t want that type of behaviour in my businesses,” he said.

“We take this kind of thing very seriously. That kind of behaviour really is just unacceptable and is not wanted in any hospitality venue in Wellington.”

Other bars are joining in, with the owner of Valhalla saying they would also be banned.

Some of the accused men have previously modelled for a clothing brand stocked by a well-known Wellington retailer.

A representative confirmed posts which featured the men on the shop’s social media had now been removed.

A record label, which the most prominent artist had previously been under,said the man was no longer signed and had not been for some time.

Musician 'appalled' at news

A musician who had been part of a group project with one of the men for a brief time said he was “disgusted” at the news.

He did not work closely with the man and did not create a song with him.

At the time they worked on the project he said it was clear the man had an “ego”.

He said if those things had happened, “I’m so f***ing glad that it’s coming out and that people aren’t tolerating this kind of behaviour anymore. A lot of people are being called out at the moment and I love it.”

He said he was trying to build a community with “good souls”.

“We just don’t stand for that shit.”

Another musician who has interacted with the men in the past said he never saw any signs of the alleged behaviour, but he was also “not surprised” at the allegations.

He said there were many vulnerable girls in Wellington, and some musicians took advantage of that.

Victim advocate Louise Nicholas has been supporting several women who have brought forward their complaints.

She said the women were “overwhelmed” and “grateful” for the support they’d received.

It was helpful for the complainants to hear more about the police investigation process, she said.

“The fact that police were on to it immediately and pulled a team of 12 together and the investigations have started” was also reassuring.

“They do feel supported now. They feel confident to go to police.”

Detective Inspector John Van Den Heuvel, who fronted media yesterday, was “awesome” with the women.

“He basically took his cop hat off and just spoke to them with a lot of heart and empathy and encouragement.”

Nicholas said the women understood they would be “fully supported”.

“I really feel for these young ladies but I’m very proud of them as well.”

Anyone with information or complaints on the case can call police on 105 and quote Operation Emerald.

Where to get help:

• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand – find your closest one here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am – 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.
• Wellington HELP has a 24/7 helpline for people who need to speak to someone immediately. You can call 04 801 6655 and push 0 at the menu.

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