EXCLUSIVE: A 21-year-old high-flying political staffer in the NSW Greens who has publicly supported the party since he was seven-years-old is now under police investigation over alleged serious sexual assault offences, including rape.
– WARNING: DETAILED DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS FROM SURVIVORS. FOR HELP, VISIT HERE –
The NSW Police investigation into recently “suspended” NSW Greens campaigner, Jarah Crook, comes after Sydney-based journalist and rape survivor, Lauren Ingram, publicly outed Mr Crook over the social media service Twitter as an alleged “serial sexual abuser” operating within the left-leaning political party, going as far back as 2011.
One Greens member, who was a candidate at the 2016 federal election, has gone so far as to claim that Mr Crook was allegedly “using the party as his hunting grounds”.
Mr Crook – who was “indefinitely suspended” by the Greens just a little more than three months ago – was due to leave Australia in just a few days on a long overseas holiday for which he has himself admitted he doesn’t “have a return ticket”. It is unclear if Mr Crook will now be to able depart for the trip in late June as previously planned.
The self-described “provocateur” was a paid campaigner for the NSW Greens for two months in 2015 and four months in 2016, before being suspended by the party in February 2017 after Ms Ingram filed an official written complaint. Ms Ingram alleges she was raped by Mr Crook in April 2015. Sources within the Greens insist however that there is no record of Mr Crook “undertaking paid work” for any of the sitting NSW Greens MPs. He has however had volunteer positions stretching back at least seven years. It is understood the Greens have failed to interview Mr Crook at-length about the matters after he allegedly abruptly left his home state of NSW in February when the official complaint was received by the party. Mr Crook has not responded to messages sent to him by True Crime News Weekly this week.
Following Ms Ingram’s decision to go public, more young women, including writer Erin Riley, have come forward to share their accounts of being allegedly sexually harassed, assaulted or raped by Mr Crook. While it is also believed the NSW Greens were aware of Mr Crook as being allegedly involved in the sexual assault or harassment of at least four women going back to 2011. For some reason though, Mr Crook was allegedly promoted in the party into a position where he had access to membership databases and sensitive information, as well as potential access to young women and others.
Mr Crook first came to some minor prominence in local political circles after launching a Twitter account in 2011 under the name, ‘GreenAt15‘, where he would discuss how he was politically engaged and savvy about social issues despite his youth. The year before, it was reported that the then-14-year-old Greens activist got told off by the then-Labor Premier, Kristina Keneally, to “let the adults talk together” during the aftermath of the 2010 Penrith by-election in western Sydney.
“Jarah may only be 14, but he’s been handing out [Greens leaflets] since he was 7,” The Tally Room website noted in its report of the evening’s events.
An article published by The Point Magazine in August 2013 claimed Mr Crook had even back then created “a large social media presence”. In the same year, Mr Crook was also a participant in the ‘Youth Parliament’ which is like a simulation for young political boffins of the workings of the real NSW Parliament.
JARAH CROOK FINALLY SPEAKS: EXCLUSIVE! “I deny all the allegations”: Alleged ‘Greens rapist’ threatens “legal action” over “hurtful” claims
A graduate in 2013 of Catholic boys high school, Holy Cross College Ryde in Sydney’s north, Mr Crook then commenced tertiary studies at the University of NSW.
In 2014, Mr Crook was in Melbourne to celebrate the victory of Greens candidate, Sam Hibbins, for the blue-ribbon seat of Prahran in Victoria’s Parliament.
A year later, the seemingly omnipresent Mr Crook was helping out Ballina Greens MP, Tamara Smith, on putting her official website together.
In December 2015, Mr Crook was then seen at the NSW Greens Christmas party where he was one of 100 guests at the Alexandria Hotel in Sydney’s inner-west. The festivities made national headlines after former Liberal party leader and prime minister, Tony Abbott, entered the pub unaware that it was the location of celebrations for his political rivals.
At the time, Mr Crook himself was quoted by reporters saying “it was weird” to see the conservative icon in the heartland of the Greens.
“A couple of our MPs were there and they had no idea that Tony would rock up, let alone that Tony would have no idea who they were,” Mr Crook told Fairfax Media.
“He also made the rookie mistake of mixing beer and wine.”
And just last year, Mr Crook was one of the co-returning officers for the NSW Greens in the controversial pre-selection battle for the vacant NSW Upper House seat formerly belonging to John Kaye, which took place following his untimely death in May 2016.
On his now pulled-down website, Mr Crook went about by describing himself as a “Photographer. Campaigner. Provocateur”.
“I create the moment and build movements,” Mr Crook also boasted.
“This website will visually document my 2017 travels across Europe and Central Asia, as I capture the art of both the natural and built environment.”
Since Ms Ingram went public with her account and named Mr Crook as her alleged attacker, the former political operative has seemingly shut down almost his entire social media presence; including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as his website. Mr Crook’s personal Facebook account still remains apparently active however.
Ms Ingram has said she was moved to go public with her own personal ordeal because it seemed that authorities such as the police and powerful institutions, even progressively-minded ones, were still not taking the experiences of sexual assault victims seriously.
“Despite my trauma, I was a ‘good’ victim. I went to the police only weeks after I was raped [in 2015]. The first officer I spoke to, a young man at the North Sydney station, was kind and professional,” Ms Ingram said.
“But the matter was referred to the station closest to where I was assaulted, and I was assigned a male detective who made me feel even worse.
“The first time I met with the detective, to do a formal interview, he told me my rapist was ‘just a kid who didn’t know how to have sex yet’. He treated me like I didn’t matter, like somehow I could have prevented this from happening.”
Ms Ingram further alleges the investigating detective failed to collect basic evidence and retrieve hospital records. It is believed the detective in question is from the Kings Cross police station in Sydney’s inner-city.
SURVIVOR LAUREN INGRAM SHARES TRAUMA TO PROTECT OTHER WOMEN
Ms Ingram is a respected journalist who has been published by the likes of News.com.au, Fairfax, Junkee, Birdee Mag and the Daily Mail Australia. In a series of Twitter messages on Sunday, June 18 that quickly went viral, Ms Ingram sparked widespread outrage and calls for action after detailing an alleged violent sexual assault she had survived.
“Since I decided to go public with what happened to me on social media, I have been contacted by five other women who were harassed or assaulted by the man who raped me,” Ms Ingram said.
“Some have said they complained to the Young Greens about his behaviour six years ago and were ignored.”
Ms Ingram has since written a painfully honest and traumatic account of the alleged rape and an expose of its aftermath for News.com.au.
“I WILL always remember April 25, 2015. The day I was raped,” Ms Ingram writes.
“I met the man who raped me only a couple of months after I moved to Sydney. I didn’t know very many people in the city and he was friendly, both online and off. I considered us friends, and he was a member of the NSW Greens and other progressive circles people I knew were a part of.
“On Anzac Day I had been out socialising with friends and he messaged me, inviting me to hang out at his house and have pizza. I arrived, we ate and had a drink. Then he started kissing me.
“The sex started out as consensual. But then quickly he started to get rough. I said ‘ow’ and he kept going. I told him to stop, please, and he held me down, bit me and hit me.
“When he was done, I got up, shaking. He was suddenly angry again, asking me where I was going. I said to the bathroom, where I sat for a minute and tried to work out what to do. I came out and he was waiting by the door, telling me to come back to bed. I lay awake, terrified, for the next several hours, trying to work out how to escape.
“When the sun rose I said I had to leave. He said we should ‘do this again some time’. I got in an Uber home and cried, wanting to go home and scrub my skin until I couldn’t feel his touch anymore.
“During the journey I messaged two friends, saying I was hurt and scared and didn’t know what to do. Immediately they came to my house, and convinced me to go to the hospital.
“Even the doctor, who was a specialist and had to be called in, was shocked at the extent of my internal and external injuries. She documented my bruises and swabbed me, took blood to test for STIs and gave me the morning after pill.
“But what has brought almost as much pain as the violent abuse I was subjected to that night is how the institutions that claim to care about violence against women let me down when I reported what happened to me.”
WRITER ERIN RILEY REVEALS PERSONAL TRAUMA TO BACK ALLEGATIONS
The NSW Greens have in response to the growing outrage released a media statement, saying the party will be conducting an internal report on the handling of the complaint regarding Mr Crook.
“The Greens NSW are in the process of reviewing and strengthening policies and mechanisms for dealing with sexual assault, violence and harassment,” the statement reads.
“Regarding the incident that was discussed on social media on the 18 June 2017, the Greens NSW first received a formal complaint on 16 February 2017 and the member was formally and indefinitely suspended on 20 February 2017 and all member rights were removed. We also understand that the incident was reported to the police.
“We are devastated for the woman involved and are extremely concerned to ensure everyone’s emotional and physical safety within our party.”
Meanwhile, NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham has stayed silent on “his friend and colleague Jarah Crook” despite being openly queried by Ms Ingram on what he “has to say” about the matter.
It is thought that Mr Crook harboured ambitions of his own to one day be an MP and was likely being groomed by elements of the party for a future parliamentary position.
Other high-profile MPs within the NSW Greens however, such as the party’s police and justice spokesperson, David Shoebridge, have moved to confirm that Mr Crook never worked with them.
“He’s not a person I’ve ever worked with, and I understand he has now been indefinitely suspended from the Party,” Mr Shoebridge said over Twitter on June 19.
It is believed that Mr Crook has been politically aligned with the more conservative faction in the NSW Greens, a grouping which includes Mr Buckingham and Mr Kaye’s eventual replacement – Greens MLC Justin Field. The spat about the direction of the party in NSW has seen public attacks made on the likes of Mr Shoebridge and federal Greens Senator, Lee Rhiannon, from supporters of the more conservative faction.
Perhaps partly as a result of internal squabbling, it has emerged however that the NSW Greens were largely ill-equipped to deal with allegations of sexual assault or harassment committed by its own staff or volunteers. Members have stated in the past week that until Ms Ingram’s formal complaint in mid-February of this year was received, that “there wasn’t actually a process” in place.
“The women of NSW Greens wrote and instituted one in response to these kind of issues, especially related to the alleged perpetrator, around the time of his suspension,” a NSW Greens member said.
“At this stage it’s unclear if other Greens state branches have grievance mechanisms or sexual harassment policies but if they don’t, they can at least adapt or adopt NSW’s now. Each state should be discussing and examining this, closely and thoughtfully.”
NSW Police have informed True Crime News Weekly that a new investigation into the sexual assault allegations has been commenced after the firestorm of debate that was sparked by Ms Ingram’s comments over Twitter.
“NSW Police have reached out to a Sydney woman via a social media channel for more information about an alleged sexual assault,” a spokesperson said.
A few hours later, the spokesperson confirmed to True Crime News Weekly that “police are investigating” the allegations.
— UPDATE — On August 4, six weeks after True Crime News Weekly contacted him for the first time with a series of questions, Mr Crook finally sent a response about the allegations made about him.
“I deny all the allegations,” he wrote in an email addressed to True Crime News Weekly.
“I will be perusing legal action because this has been hurtful for my friends and family.
“In Australia, justice is served through our established justice system. It can not be served through social media lynch mob.
“I expect you to include a version of the above in the stories published online.”
NOTE: True Crime News Weekly has elected to identify the alleged offender due to apparent systemic failures in organisations that are meant to protect and serve the community, as well as the alleged offender’s plans to leave Australia indefinitely.