Taradale residents are shocked by an apparently widely-circulated letter alleging a married man in the area lured a vulnerable workmate and teenage solo mum into paid sex.
The letter, written anonymously and naming a man and his address, introduces itself as a "neighbourhood warning," purporting to have been delivered to all residents in the man's street, a nearby street and others within 500 metres.
Several copies have been given to police, but Sergeant Nigel Formosa, of Napier, said today no complaints had yet been lodged by the targeted man in relation to the letter, or by the unknown woman.
Guppy Road resident Tony Baxter is appalled. He says he doesn't know the person named in the letter or have any idea whether the allegations are true but says the letter-writer is as "cowardly" as its author claims the man to be.
The letter says the man was in a position of authority over the woman at work and took advantage of her at a time of her "financial and domestic trauma," and she became his "personal prostitute".
The letter says the situation led to the woman becoming depressed, and taking days off until she left without notice, and claims she is now recovering from a "P" (methamphetamine) habit.
The letter ends by advising the Taradale community: "Protect your families from this horrid, evil and cowardly little man who preys on the young and vulnerable in our society."
Mr Baxter received the letter by post on Friday and has written to Hawke's Bay Today calling the unidentified writer's tactics a "single-minded, callous, bigoted and prejudiced way" of assassinating the man's character.
He says it leaves the man without any form of defence or forum for a reply, and adds: "This action rattles the foundations of our democratic system, including the right to be heard and judged by our peers, that being one of the fundamentals of our society."
"If this person is indeed guilty as stated in your malicious writings," he says in what is an open letter to the author, "they have still not committed any illegal act and so therefore it becomes a moral issue which you have no right to judge or punish in this spineless way."
"In future, please keep your slanderous and totally misguided comments to yourself unless, of course, they are solicited," Mr Baxter wrote.
"You mention the word 'cowardly' in your letter, which I think describes you as well, because, unlike you, I will end this letter with my name and address".
Mr Formosa said police had no way of knowing if the information was correct or if any offence had been committed, and said that for the meantime the letter would be treated "simply as received."
"If we do get a complaint we will investigate," he said, and added that if the author did think an offence may have been committed, he or she should have contacted the police. Pointed letters to police about people in various communities are regular, usually labelling people as paedophiles or other forms of criminal offenders, but have been known to have connotations similar to those circulating in Taradale.
"It is a while since I've seen anything like this," Mr Formosa said.