NT Police have issued a media statement acknowledging the alleged anal rape of a sleeping woman last month, after omitting it from a press release issued on the day of the attack, and refusing to provide details to the NT Independent for a story published half an hour earlier.
Police media manager Rob Cross ignored questions put to him at 11.30am from the NT Independent for an article published at 12.45pm. But in a 1.15pm statement, he informed the public that a 15-year-old boy had been charged with sexual intercourse without consent after allegedly breaking into the Alice Springs house.
Mr Cross did not respond to the NT Independent’s question asking why police had not included the alleged rape in a press release they had issued on February 22 disclosing details of an alleged theft from the house at the same time.
While he gave no date, the NT Independent was told by multiple police sources the alleged attack happened about 2am on February 22.
Mr Cross said the teen was arrested the following day on a separate matter, but had his charge upgraded and was further remanded in custody on March 5, and will appear before court on April 19.
The NT Police’s media unit has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks for failing to properly disclose serious incidents to the public, including the alleged rape of a three-year-old in his Karama yard last week.
The media unit has also been the subject of discussions within police ranks, with sources telling the NT Independent officers were disappointed they did not publicly report the Alice Springs and Karama incidents.
Children’s Commissioner Sally Sievers said earlier this week that she was not informed of the alleged child rape by police “in a timely manner”.
On radio earlier today, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the NT Police had a responsibility to inform the public of serious sexual incidents.
“Their priority is catching the person [allegedly] involved, and I get it, they did that,” he said. “But it is one of those crimes where I believe it’s important that people are told about it.
“Letting me know, letting the Children’s Commissioner know — those are reasonable things to expect.”
It is unclear if Mr Gunner intends to do anything about the police media unit’s repeated failures to inform the public and suppress information in the public interest.