Hostel Owner Accused of Drugging and Assaulting Lodgers

By Victoria Kim 09/18/14

Michael Harris stands accused of sexually assaulting male travelers from Germany, England, and the United States.

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A New Zealand man is accused of drugging at least 16 male travelers staying at the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia. Michael Harris, 56, who owns the hostel, was charged with 39 offenses against the 16 men who were between the ages of 18 and 25.

The charges include indecent assault, aggravating wounding related to allegedly drugging the victims, and making intimate video recordings, according to the police. The victims were mostly young overseas tourists who had stayed at the lodge over the past two-and-a-half years.

Police want to find out whether there are other victims and have asked past visitors to the lodge to contact them. “These victims are unlikely to know that something has happened to them, although they may have their suspicions,” Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston said in a statement.

Since the news of Harris’ arrest was made public, more than 20 potential victims have contacted Johnston, from countries including Germany, England, Scotland, and the United States. “This is an ongoing investigation and we have a lot of work ahead to assess evidence and establish if there are further victims we are not yet aware of,” Johnston said.

Harris is currently in custody and appeared in Kaitaia District Court on Thursday.

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