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P&J Investigations

Rosie’s story: ‘I didn’t understand what rape was’

Rosie – not her real name – speaks for the first time about her horrific ordeal with serial rapist Kyle Park reports.
Dale Haslam
Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

They had had a great night. Two carefree schoolgirls danced the night away at a friend’s birthday party in a suburb of Aberdeen in the spring of 2018.

But with their eyes on the clock, the pair knew it was time to make tracks. They would walk a short distance to the bus stop and take their seats on a late-night First Aberdeen service – leading to an encounter that would change their lives forever.

What followed would be months of agony, distress and heartache culminating in a major police investigation and a court case.

What the girls could not have known at the time was that another person on that bus was Kyle Park – a serial rapist who had subjected girls as young as 13 to violent attacks.

Fourteen months later…

Kyle Park. Image: Supplied

In May 2019, Park would appear at the High Court in Edinburgh – then aged 18 – and admit raping four teenagers at addresses in Aberdeen and assaulting a fifth female to her injury and permanent disfigurement – all between 2014 and 2018.

The following month he was jailed for six years.

One of those who survived that horrific experience was Rosie – not her real name – who has spoken for the first time about how Park routinely abused her over the course of several months, to the point she contemplated taking her own life.

Now aged 19, Rosie recalled how she waited at that bus stop with her friend Jenny and how a seemingly innocuous encounter would have catastrophic consequences.

Rosie said: “My friend and I were out at a birthday party and we caught the bus back home and went through the city centre. The next thing I know, Kyle was on the bus and was talking to my friend. I didn’t really talk to him at all.

“I came off the bus. I went home and Jenny went home with him.”

Jenny and Rosie were aged 16 at the time – the same age as Park – and both felt confident in their decision making – attending a party responsibly, getting home safely and trusting a new boy to be friendly.

But Jenny instinctively saw something wrong in Park and quickly put an end to their fledgling relationship.

The teen couldn’t put her finger on what concerned her about the floppy-haired teen, and didn’t share her concerns with Rosie, though she could not have known the horrors that were to come.

The first time

A kind and generous girl by nature, Rosie’s next encounter with Park was a few days later when the boy complained of being down on his luck.

He had split up with Jenny and his phone was playing up and about to give up the ghost, so Rosie helped out.

Rosie said: “I had a spare phone and he came up to the house. It was just as I was about to go to school. I thought ‘nothing much will happen’.

“We were talking in the living room and he put his hands on me. I was like ‘okay’ and telling him to stop. He didn’t read the signals at all. He was very pushy to getting what he wanted.

“Luckily enough he left the house and I thought ‘I will get ready, leave the house and forget that it happened’. As the day progressed I thought ‘that guy is really weird’.”

Though Rosie was shaken by the physical assault, she didn’t understand it was wrong.

The teenager hoped for the best. To her, it was a one-off incident and she resolved to give Park another chance. After all, here was a good-looking boy her own age lavishing attention on her.

Though they had only known each other a few days, Rosie felt they had made a connection, speaking later that day to him for a long period through text messages and through Facebook Messenger.

In spite of any reservations Rosie may have had, she decided to give Park another chance.

Rosie said: “I didn’t understand it at the time. I was very naïve. Being my first proper relationship I didn’t know what to do.”

But within just 10 hours, things were about to become much more horrifying for the schoolgirl.

10 hours later…

With the assault weighing on her mind throughout that day, she had spoken to Park by text and agreed to go over to his house – to make peace, smooth things over.

She met his family and, after a pleasant chat with Park’s parents, the boy invited Rosie through to his room.

Rosie said: “We were just chatting away. I remember him trying to continue doing what he was trying to do at (my) house and I was telling him to back off. He was getting really annoyed.

“I went through to the living room to speak to his mum and that really upset him. I felt safe (in the living room). I thought ‘he is bigger than me, stronger than me’.

“I went (back into his room later on) and clearly remember it. We were just lying down watching Netflix and just kind of chatting, getting to know each other and then he started fully-on climbing on me.

“I was trying to fight him off and it just didn’t work. I just let it happen and wanted to get it over and done with.

“I had never been sexually active before then so it was my first experience with anyone.”

Distraught, Rosie ran to her grandmother’s house.

Rose said: “After leaving Kyle’s house that night I was very confused. I shut off and didn’t want to speak with anyone, which was kind of hard for me at that point because I was very outgoing and doing really well.

“It was my grandmother’s birthday at the time. What a horrible day.

“I kept it hidden for months. It happened in March 2018 and I didn’t tell my mum until November.

“I didn’t understand what rape was. I always trying to trick myself into thinking it wasn’t happening.”

From the outside looking in, it is perhaps hard to understand why Rosie didn’t cut off all contact with Park.

Explaining her mindset at that time, Rosie said: “It was more about me not feeling bad. I didn’t want him to upset him.

“I don’t think he fully processed what he was doing. He thought it was normal. I kind of went along with it. I saw that his behaviour kind of switches.

“He was very childlike when it came to his understanding (of situations).”

In the days after the sexual assault, Park kept texting Rosie and she agreed to meet him again – giving the boy one last chance. On that occasion, he was the model boyfriend – adding to Rose’s confusion.

Rosie said: “Looking back now I knew it wasn’t right. I don’t know how I didn’t pick up on it. I was getting lost in the moment. I shouldn’t have gone back that third day but I did.”

“The third time I met him was quite normal. He apologised (for what happened).

“We had a great day getting to know each other and having proper time together.

“We had a nice day where we just sat down, relaxed and played video games and talked about who we were.

“I walked in and the atmosphere was totally different. The energy had switched positively. He was really nice and kind. He was cautious about where he was sitting and making sure he wasn’t coming on too strong.

“It was really nice to see that different side of him. I thought ‘give it another chance, maybe he was having a bad day (previously)’.

“There were times when (sex) was consensual. There was a lot of times when we discussed (how it would happen) and he was very respectful.”

The couple would then see each other every other day – and then another side of Park’s personality came into view, inflicting further mental anguish onto Rosie.

Keeping him safe

When the couple first met, Park would always wear hoodies to cover his scarred arms and Rosie remembered recoiling in shock when seeing his arm for the first time, as they were covered in self-inflicted wounds.

In the weeks that followed, the schoolgirl would become equally concerned about the prospect of Park attacking her as she was about him attacking himself and blaming her for triggering it.

Recalling the first time it happened, Rosie said: “(His attitude) got really bad after the first three weeks (of our relationship) and then he started self-harming.

“He took off his hoodie and I thought ‘oh my God he’s got loads of scars on his arm, but maybe he’s over it, he’s on medication’.

“I went into the bathroom and came back and he had cut. He used the same spots and opened them up again.

“I thought ‘what the hell is happening here?’ I left him alone for a minute. He wasn’t in a bad mood, he was happy.

“He had told me about experiencing bad things when he was younger and having got help for it from a therapist. I went with him a few times.

“He told me that and it was a really big thing for him to open up about and I felt ‘I’ve just got to be there for him and focus on him’ which wasn’t the best move at the time – I should have been focusing on me.

“After that day, he just kept (self harming). His parents knew and tried everything from locking up the knives and sharp objects. He still broke into it.

“Every time I went into his room he had an object that he had hidden. I said ‘what have you got now?’.

“I was so frustrated one day that I nearly walked out. He said ‘you can’t leave and pulled me back’. His mum gave me a hug and was trying to calm me down.

“I was trying to keep my mental health at bay because I had suffered from depression ever since I was 12.

“I started struggling worse and started to self-harm. I (had not self-harmed) for about three years. My mental health was deteriorating really quickly.

“He was very clingy. He didn’t allow me to study. He wanted attention constantly. I was focused on keeping him safe.”

The safe space

Rosie was a shy child when she began secondary school and remembers being severely bullied by other children, to the point she refused to go into lessons, staying on a circular bus route all day instead.

But the torment ended and Rosie returned to class soon after, progressing well right up until the last few months of her fifth year, when unemployed Park came onto the scene.

Rosie said: “Prior to meeting Kyle, my school life was going really well.

“I wanted to be in school. It was a place I felt happy and it was the only way I got to see my friends, which was great.

“My grades were great. As soon as I met him I started slowing down.

“He would come into town and text me to say ‘I’ll meet you for lunch’. It got to the point he got really aggressive that I was going back to school. He said ‘you’re not going back’.

“It became a thing where if he was in town I had to leave and go right there and then so I typically would avoid going into school in the first place just so I wouldn’t have to put up with the fear of him getting me.

“I was scared he was going to harm himself and do something stupid and also he had on a few occasions pushed me and put his hands on me. He was always unafraid to put his hands on me if I had done something wrong.

“I started skipping school quite frequently and not being able to push myself and get the proper results I needed.

“School pulled me in for meetings but I always made up the excuse that I was having trouble at home and they always seemed to brush it off.

“I was really paranoid if I told them he would somehow found out. I didn’t want the police involved. I wanted everything normal.

“Then exam time came and I failed the ones I needed to get into college.”

As time went on, Park became paranoid about every move Rosie made. Like him, she attended therapy sessions and he convinced her to take him with her – infiltrating what was supposed to be a safe space for the schoolgirl.

Rosie said: “He wanted to be in the sessions with me.

“(The therapist) didn’t think much of it. They thought he was just there for support. I don’t think they realised the danger that could have put me in.

“He didn’t trust me to talk about anything. I was literally sitting there, the therapist was looking at me and I was trying to signal ‘I don’t want him here’.

“He was afraid I would make it seem he was a bad person and that he wasn’t doing as well (with his own mental health) as he was saying (to his own therapist). He got really upset with me over that.

“I was thinking ‘I’m struggling here, I need help’ but I couldn’t say that because it would have made him look bad.

“It was terrifying for me. I kept constantly looking at him making sure he wasn’t upset because I know as soon as I left that room we would get into an argument.”

There were to be two more horrific ordeals before Rosie finally sought help.

Getting away

One day the couple were relaxing in Park’s bedroom when Park had an idea.

Rosie recalled feeling a mix of shock, fear and confusion at the metal object he brought into view.

Her innate response was to get out.

Rosie said: “He just kind of flipped and said ‘I have an idea, let’s throw darts at the wall’. I was standing up and all of a sudden the dart went in my head.

“I didn’t think he was going to actually throw it towards me I just thought ‘I’m getting out of the way’. I was maybe 2ft-3ft away from him. It was close to hitting a vein. I felt a sharp pain in my head and said ‘what have you just done?’. I was panicking and he started laughing.

“I left that day. I was bleeding so I covered it up. I didn’t tell my mum and dad. He tried phoning me a few times and I ignored it. He called me a bitch. I was so used to him calling me a name that I just didn’t process it whatsoever.

“He would call me a bitch if I didn’t do what I wanted and would call me a slag because I was hanging around with my friend at the time and he didn’t like it.

“I was really numb at that point.”

A few days later, the three-month relationship finally came to an end when Park’s emotional manipulation went too far.

The couple were discussing self-harm and Rosie had confided in him about her own self-harm more than she had with anyone else – a sign that she trusted him, and that she thought he understood the immense impact self-harm had had on her life.

Rosie said: “He said to me ‘it’s my favourite game to play – you cut, I’ll cut deeper and we’ll see who wins’. I flipped. I thought ‘there is something seriously not right with this guy. It’s not a game’. Self-harm is not a joke to me.

“I got away from him. I told a friend and they said ‘you need to get away from him now.’ That was the turning point for me.”

Even after getting rid of Park for good, Rosie had to put a great deal of thought into how she would tell him: Splitting up with him at his house was out of the question given his tendency for violence, and Rosie was also concerned her father would attack Park if she broke the news at his house.

She instead invited him to a friend’s house where several of her pals were in the room next door, ready to intervene if needed.

Three weeks after the break-up, the pair resumed contact as friends, mainly because Rosie wanted to ensure he had not fallen unwell due to self-harm. Park accepted the new terms.

Rosie said: “He wasn’t pushy. He was able to respect my boundaries. After a few weeks, he became jealous of my friends and I couldn’t deal with that so I blocked him on Facebook. He came round to the house I was at and was banging on the window. I was terrified.

“It brought back all the memories.”

Kyle Park’s crimes

The day Rosie discovered she was not Park’s only victim will live long in her memory.
Having left school, Rosie enrolled in college and was rebuilding her life with the support of family and friends.

She had split up with Park in June 2018 and it wasn’t until that November that she began to open up to her mum about some of the things that had happened.

Then in February 2019, Rosie was at her friend’s house when there was a knock at the door.

A police officer came in and delicately asked Rosie’s friend some questions – and the subject of conversation sent shivers down Rosie’s spine.

Rosie said: “The officer said someone had come forward to say Kyle had abused them and given my friend’s name (as a potential victim).

“I heard the name and said ‘okay, that’s my ex. What is this about?’

“Initially my heart sank because I didn’t realise it had happened to anyone else. I literally stopped and was kind of in shock. I had to meet the police to identify his picture.

“There was an incident where Kyle had claimed Jenny had locked him in the house and forced him to sleep with her, but that was ridiculous. She was 15 at the time. I talked to her and she said ‘yeah, that never happened’. He had locked her in her own house.”

Over the coming months, details emerged of Park’s crimes.

Park was sentenced to 27 months’ custody at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after admitting assault and attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl in August 2017, when he himself was aged 15.

Kyle Park. Image: Supplied

His sentence was then extended by four years by Lady Wise at the High Court in Edinburgh after he admitted the rape and assault charges – meaning he was facing a six-year term in total.

The court in the capital heard Park befriended a 13-year-old girl on a day trip organised by social work and, after talking to her on Facebook, he raped her at his home in July 2017.

After the attack the girl got up to leave but the rapist punched her in the ribs and told her not to tell anyone.

He told another girl to harm herself by cutting her arm with a razor blade, and when she refused, used his leg to restrain her arm before slicing an inch-long cut through her skin.

The court heard how Park hard told her that if she didn’t do it, he would cut something a lot worse.

Then, in a jealous rage over the girl talking to another boy, Park pinned her to the wall and held a knife to her throat. She managed to hit him and escape.

Another victim woke in the night to find Park with his hands around her throat. On another occasion, Park compressed her chest so much that she lost consciousness for a brief time.

That same girl told Park to stop during sex on another occasion but he ignored her pleas and carried on.

Park had committed all these offences before his 18th birthday.

A persistent and predatory offender

Lady Wise. Image: Supplied

Lady Wise described Park as someone who set out to humiliate and degrade victims and showed significant hostility to members of the opposite sex.

After Park was jailed, Detective Inspector David Howieson, based in Aberdeen, described the teenager as a “persistent and predatory offender” who had caused significant trauma and distress.

He commended the victims for their bravery in coming forward.

“Some of these girls were so young. I was thinking ‘I need to help in some way’.

“That is why I made my statement – and why I am speaking out now.

“I was ecstatic when I heard that he had been remanded in custody,” Rosie said.

“I was waiting on a phone call and they told me he pled guilty. I was glad (the prospect of having to give evidence) was all over. I thought ‘now he knows what it feels like to not getting his own way. I was so happy’.

“I remember his sentencing – even if it was just six years, it was still something.

“I thought ‘now everyone knows who this person is. He’ll never live it down’. That is what he deserves.
“I talk to some of the other victims in the case now and again to make sure they are okay.”

Rosie added: “Ever since I told them what had happened, I’ve formed a stronger bond with my parents and my siblings.

“I don’t know how it would have turned out if I hadn’t have told them at that time. I don’t even know if I’d be here.

“When I told them, the weight was lifted off my shoulders.

“The person I was before all this has come back. I’m a different person from who I was.

“I’m still at college. I’ve managed to make friends who were there for me for the case and the head of my department has been helpful.

“After college, I’m hoping to go into (music) studio work and songwriting.”

She remembered how it felt when she was at her lowest point and how it might have turned out without the help of a charity.

Rosie said: “I didn’t feel danger in situations that I should feel danger because I was mainly scared of the person that had the influence on me. You should be scared of falling off a bridge or stepping out into traffic. I didn’t feel that.

“If I hadn’t had that help, I don’t think I’d be here. I would have been another statistic.”
Throughout the police investigation and the court case, Rosie sought support from Rape Crisis and can’t sing its praises highly enough. The charity’s staff helped her make her police statement and deal with the emotional trauma of what she experienced.

Rosie said: “It was definitely hard not knowing if I would see his face again (in court). Rape Crisis told me there was an option of giving evidence by video link or with a screen.

“They were very supportive. I’m proud I was able to talk about it and stay away from my darker side.

“I didn’t know there were services out there that could help me, until I found out about Rape Crisis.

“If I had found out about the support organisations earlier, I think it would have stopped quicker.

“The more aware you can be of the people that are qualified to support you in this specific area, the more likely you are to seek help.

“The best message I can probably give is – just go and talk to someone who understands the aspects of abuse. Even if it is just one appointment, I would have rather than done that and talked about my options.

“Even if you don’t want to commit to it, at least you’ve taken that first step.”