By BRYAN LUVENA
A 72-YEAR-OLD Australian missionary has been accused of indecently assaulting local girls between 2010 and 2012 while serving here.
Police arrested Rev. Kevin Rietveld on 24 June 2019 in Honiara while he was on a visit here, and have since detained him.
Rietveld had served in the country as a Christian missionary during which he was in charge of a mission office here.
Police said after his departure about six years ago, they started receiving complaints of sexual abuse by girls sponsored by the mission, and investigations begun.
“Following his arrival back in Honiara on 23 June, detectives from the National Criminal Investigations Department (NCID) Sexual Assault Team arrested him on 24 June 2019, charged him and took him to court where he was remanded,” Acting Deputy Director NCIDDetective Inspector Michael Bole said.
“I would like to commend the bravery of the victims who were just girls at the time of the alleged incidences for coming forward to police and reporting these alleged indecent assaults,” he added.
“Unfortunately many sexual assaults are committed by persons in positions of trust and that understandably makes it difficult for victims to report these things and prevent further offending from taking place.
“This case shows there is increasing strength in women, the community and RSIPF in reporting and responding to cases of sexual assault.
“Even if foreigners in important positions of trust are suspects and leave the Solomon Islands, it won’t stop RSIPF from seeking justice, even after the passage of time.
“We keep an open mind in our investigations and are mindful of the possibility there may be more victims, who for their own reasons, may have been reluctant to speak to police.
“We encourage anybody who may also be a victim, or know about this case, to speak to police.
“We can also arrange support,” Inspector Bole stated.
Rietveld will appear in court on August 9.