Police investigating claims of sexual assaults in the Wellington music scene are warning people not to share unverified information on social media.

The warning comes after “people who have absolutely nothing to do with the allegations” were publicly accused of being the offenders.

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 a group of men, some musicians.

Police said a small number of people had come forward with complaints about the men.

But now officers are being forced to address the spread of misinformation online.

“Last week we launched Operation Emerald after information was shared on social media regarding sexual assaults in Wellington,” Detective Sergeant Stephen Wescott said.

“Since then, people who have absolutely nothing to do with the allegations have been accused of being the offenders on social media.

“We know operations like this one create significant concern in the community.

“This concern is absolutely warranted.”

But he urged people to come to the police if they had concerns, and to avoid sharing identifying information on social media.

The investigation into sexual assaults in Wellington is ongoing.

Police continue to ask anyone who has information that may assist with the investigation to call 105 and quote Operation Emerald.

Last week Wellington bars and clubs declared bans on the accused men entering their venues, and other musicians spoke out in condemnation of the alleged acts.

A former manager for one of the men also spoke out, saying he had no connection to the allegations and had cut ties completely with the group several months ago.

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

She said last week 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, she said.

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

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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