WARNING: Explicit details and disturbing content
A Cambridge horse trainer charged with sexually abusing young girls with her partner told the police she kept silent about his crimes because he threatened to kill her.
“He told me if I told anyone I wouldn’t survive the week,” Laken Rose told police in a recorded interview which was played at her trial on Friday.
“I tried to stop him. I always tried to stop him.”
However, the Crown prosecution case is that Rose is far more involved in the sexual crimes of her former partner, Andrew Williams, than she admitted to police.
Rose is on trial in the High Court at Hamilton on 51 charges of sexual violation, indecently assaulting children under 12, making objectionable publications, possessing objectionable material and inducing young persons to commit indecent acts.
The charges against Rose relate to four girls aged between 3 and 14 at various locations including Palmerston North, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty over a five-year period.
She has pleaded guilty to nine charges of inducing an indecent act on a young person, and four charges of the same nature have been withdrawn by the Crown.
Her defence to most of the charges she faces is that she was compelled to participate under duress by her former partner Williams.
The 54-year-old Williams pleaded guilty to 56 charges at the start of the trial on Monday.
The offences against seven victims include eight of rape, along with a raft of charges for sexually violating young girls, indecently assaulting children under 12, making objectionable publications, possessing objectionable material and inducing young persons to commit indecent acts.
Rose was employed to train horses as a track rider and was well known in the Cambridge equestrian scene.
When she was first interviewed by Tauranga police on May 1, 2019 in relation to a complaint laid in the Bay of Plenty, Laken Rose denied anything sexual happened between the girl, her partner Williams or herself.
“I’m telling you that is not true,” Rose told Detective Bryan Dudley, who read her signed statement at the High Court trial on Friday.
“I would never ever let that happen.” Despite her denials, Rose was arrested and charged with sexual violation and indecent assault.
Two days later, Dudley and fellow detective Joe Meehan returned to Cambridge and spoke to Rose again. She provided the detectives with contact details for the families of two young girls, who were also victims.
Rose also disclosed to Dudley that her relationship with Williams was violent, before giving the police her cellphone. Later, she called Dudley in order to give him Williams’ cellphone and a laptop, which contained images of Williams having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
A few weeks later, Laken agreed to be interviewed by Dudley in the presence of her lawyer Philip Morgan QC.
The interview was recorded and played to the High Court on Friday. Rose explained she had been in a relationship with Williams for about 10 years, which started when she was 19 and he was 42.
Dudley told her the police had examined her phone, and Williams’ phone, and found messages in which they discussed having sex with underage girls.
“Do you know of any other children who may have been abused?” Dudley asked.
“Yes,” said Rose.
She went on to describe how she saw Williams have a bath with a young girl they were babysitting, and how she had her “head pushed through a wall” when Rose refused to take photos.
Afterwards, Rose said she broke off the friendship with the girl’s mother in order to protect the girl.
When asked about the 3-year-old daughter of another friend, Rose said she saw videos of Williams abusing the toddler on his phone.
“He told me if I told anyone I wouldn’t survive the week,” Rose told Dudley.
The detective then said text messages on her phone appeared to discuss the toddler in a sexual manner.
“It was just talk … to stop it happening.”
Rose told the detective that Williams had asked her to find young girls for him, and she protected one girl whom Williams seemed to “be in love with”.
When Dudley asked her about videos in which Rose could be seen having sex with a 14-year-old girl, Rose said she couldn’t remember anything about that year.
“I had a complete breakdown. I knew I was supposed to be finding girls, but I didn’t want to,” Rose said.
“I would do anything to survive, I would do whatever he told me to do, or he would kill me. I don’t remember, I don’t think I want to remember.”
Rose said she believed Williams would carry out his threat.
“He strangled me, he beat me, he made me feel worthless. He took me away from everyone, no one would ever help me or love me,” Rose said.
The 31-year-old Rose is expected to give evidence next week after the Crown finishes calling prosecution witnesses.
The trial is being heard by Justice Matthew Muir without a jury.
SEXUAL HARM – DO YOU NEED 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 contact Safe to Talk confidentially:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org
• For more info or to web chat visit www.safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station –
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