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Hell tries to make amends for 'sexual assault' jibe

Thursday 16 Aug 2012 1:36p.m.

Hell Pizza tries to make amends

By Dan Satherley / NZN

Hell Pizza says it will match dollar-for-dollar donations made to the Wellington Rape Crisis centre, after the pizza franchise posted a controversial status update on Facebook last night.

The post contained an alleged confession about a sexual assault, which had won the company's weekly "confessional" competition.

The winning entry, where a man confessed to wearing a mask and putting his genitals in a sleeping man's mouth until he awoke, was posted on Hell Pizza's Facebook page on Wednesday evening.

However, the company soon deleted the post following a backlash on social media, with many saying the man's confession was a sexual assault.

An offended Twitter user suggested the company make amends by making a donation to Wellington Rape Crisis, which was due to funding shortfalls was facing having to shut its doors one day a week, and Hell took notice.

Hell says its social media manager "got it wrong", and will donate $10,000 to the centre, plus match others' donations dollar-for-dollar until the end of the month.

"As part of our commitment to ensuring this doesn’t happen again we will also be putting our team and staff through a sexual violence awareness and ethical bystander training run by the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network, of which Wellington Rape Crisis is the lead agency," Hell Pizza said on its Facebook page this afternoon.

Hell says the offending post was not approved by owners Callum Davies or Stu McMillan. They say their social media manager "normally does a great job, but in this case he got it wrong".

Wellington Rape Crisis have accepted the company's offer.

"Hell Pizza made a mistake," says agency manager Natalie Gousmett. "The confession described an illegal sexual assault and it is offensive and harmful that they posted it. We are pleased to see that they have apologised unreservedly and are taking action to ensure something similar does not occur again."

Though the organisation appreciates the financial help, Ms Gousmett said it "seems wrong" it had to come about in this way.

"We provide essential and valued services to people who have been raped and sexually abused; we should be sustainably funded by Government."

Last night, Hell said the winning entry had been chosen by "the computer".

"We saw this as a 'Jackass' type confession, guys making fun of other guys which we're sure is the way that it was given and received. We certainly don't condone anything further than that," said Hell.

A short time later in another post, Hell backed down, saying they had initially seen the confession "in the spirit of a prank between mates".

"Once we understood that offence had been taken and saw the bad light the post could be seen in we removed it, and we apologise to those offended. Lesson learned."

3 News / NZN

 
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