A woman who was ‘gang-raped’ by a notorious gang of surfers when she was just 14 has shared how her desperate pleas for justice went unanswered.
Karen Iles, 43, was barely a teenager when a group of 15 men almost twice her age pushed her into a room and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.
She and a friend had traveled from Gosford in New South Wales to Queensland’s Gold Coast for a family holiday that they planned to spend at the beach in their new bikinis.
Unbeknownst to the girls, members of a notorious ‘surf gang’ were also staying at the Rainbow Commodore Holiday Apartments in October 1993.
Ms Iles, now a lawyer, said the group of teenagers and young men began hanging around her in the pool area before inviting her to her room for lunch.
“I now recognize that what happened to me were classic grooming behaviors that any pedophile would use on a child,” he said. The project Wednesday night.
Karen Iles, 43, (pictured) was just a teenager when she was pushed into a room and repeatedly sexually assaulted by a group of men nearly twice her age in 1993.
One of the older men took her to a bedroom where he pushed her back and began aggressively kissing her on the bed.
Despite her repeatedly telling him ‘no’ and ‘that hurts’, the young man continued to assault her as the rest of the gang began to enter the room to watch.
She alleges the men took turns abusing her and recalls older men calling the 15- and 16-year-olds ‘virgins’ for not getting involved.
“They were very orchestrated and methodical,” Ms Iles said. news.com.au.
“I remember thinking to myself that there were too many children in the room and I couldn’t get out.
‘So I closed my eyes and thought, ‘I hope it all ends as soon as possible.’
When she was finally allowed to leave, the dazed and confused 14-year-old girl ran out of the room to join her friend and take a shower.
Ms. Iles did not tell her parents about the alleged abuse, but she came home a different child who no longer felt the same passion for her school work, sports or music.
Ms Iles (pictured) says the group of teenagers and young men who raped her had started hanging around her in the pool area before inviting her to their room for lunch.
Known as a well-behaved and studious teenager, the schoolgirl began sitting down with the ‘naughty’ girls at school who misbehaved and used drugs.
At 16, Ms. Iles thought about quitting school and working in a cafe. At the ages of 17 and 18 she developed anorexia, wore dirty clothes and shaved her head.
Her parents became increasingly suspicious and eventually rummaged through her journal and found an entry describing the horror of the alleged abuse.
She was told responsible children “could get into a lot of trouble”, however Ms Iles said she still blamed herself and didn’t want to get them into trouble.
Her perspective changed during a 2004 International Women’s Day march.
Surrounded by other brave women, Ms Iles said she found the courage to walk to the Newtown police station armed with all the evidence she had.
Known as a well-behaved and studious teenager, the schoolgirl (pictured) began sitting down with the ‘naughty’ girls at school who misbehaved and used drugs after enduring the rapes.
Say the exact location, the exact year, the exact month. I gave the name of the gang, physical descriptions, the names of a co-victim and a witness, I also handed over my childhood diary, and that diary has never been found,” he said.
Ms Iles was told that Redfern Police in Sydney and Coolangatta Police in Queensland would launch a joint investigation, however it quickly stalled.
Her case was forgotten due to a lack of cooperation from NSW Police, with Ms Iles only finding out decades later that her case had been closed after just a week.
He spent nearly two decades desperately trying to persuade the police to investigate before he surprised them with another devastating update.
In 2018, Queensland Police said his original 15-page statement had been shredded.
She was ‘destroyed’ after finding out her case had been closed for over a decade and struggled with suicidal thoughts.
The joint inquiry into his claims was closed due to a lack of cooperation from NSW Police. Ms. Iles discovered decades later that her case had been closed after just a week.
Three years later, in 2021, a copy of his file was found by NSW Police, which at the time gave no explanation as to why it had turned up suddenly.
Nearly two decades after she first gave her statement about her horrifying experience, Ms Iles was invited to a meeting with police in December 2021.
“The trauma of the sexual assaults was one thing,” he said.
“But the trauma of dealing with the police and our justice system is something else entirely. In my case, that trauma of dealing with the police is much worse, if you can believe it, than the trauma of the gang rapes I endured.’
He has now released a petition for new laws that hold officers accountable for fully investigating serious crimes like hers.
Ms Iles was ‘destroyed’ after finding out her case had been closed for over a decade. She is now pushing for new laws that hold police officers accountable for proper investigation.
“I am asking our country’s politicians and attorneys general to create a legally binding minimum standard of investigation,” he said.
“So when someone comes in and reports a serious crime, we as a society know exactly how the police are going to investigate that.”
Ms Iles says the laws will introduce a minimum set of standards that police officers will have to meet to ensure that the investigation has been carried out correctly.
“The police forces of this country are failing victims and their families every day,” he said.
As of Wednesday night, the petition had received nearly 35,000 signatures.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people from 5 to 25 years old)
Domestic Violence Counseling Service 1800 RESPECT at 1800 737 732