“One of this country’s foremost advocates and campaigners for women and the victims of sexual violence.” The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2016.
Louise Nicholas became known to the New Zealand public following her remarkable, courageous fight, and her determination to bring to justice the policemen who raped her, and through her tireless work for the recognition of sexual abuse survivors’ rights within our communities, the police force, and the New Zealand justice system.
In 1984, at the young age of 13, Louise was raped by a policeman. When she complained to the police, she was told no one would believe a schoolgirl’s word ahead of a policeman’s. Her family then moved to Rotorua, where as a teenager, she was gang-raped by three other policemen.
When Louise bravely complained to a local policeman, his notebook of records and allegations disappeared. Later, her complaint and case was pulled off by the person she trusted and thought to be her confidant, the head of the Rotorua CIB, John Dewar, who she later learned was a mate of her rapists.
Louise fought relentlessly for more than two decades to see justice done. At the fourth trial, the jury weren’t allowed to be told (based on the New Zealand laws), that two of the men who Louise accused of raping her, detective sergeant Brad Shipton, and former police sergeant Bob Schollum, were already serving time in jail for gang-raping another woman. The third policeman, whom both women accused of raping them along with Shipton and Schollum, was the then suspended assistant commissioner, Clint Rickards.
The three, who argued the sex was consensual, were acquitted at the end of this trial, but Louise didn’t give up. In 2007, the fifth trial took place; this time against former inspector Dewar for attempting to obstruct and defeat the course of justice relating to her complaints of sexual offending by the police officers.
After more than two decades, five trials, and a high level of public debate and publicity, Louise finally got to hear a guilty verdict from a jury! Dewar was found guilty and was jailed for four and a half years.
I had the great privilege to know Louise through my past work with survivors of sexual violence. Married to her husband Ross for 29 years, and now mother of four, Louise is a humble and confident woman who took the control of her life back into her hands, and gave inspiration, voice, and power to survivors of sexual violence, helping to create a more aware, equal, and safer society.
In 2007, Louise Nicholas was named New Zealander of the Year by the New Zealand Herald. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Anzac of the Year Award, and at the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours, she was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the prevention of sexual violence. In 2016, Louise was shortlisted as a Finalist for the New Zealander of the Year Awards.