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New Zealand hostel owner charged with drugging, assaulting guests

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A New Zealand hostel is under investigation after its owner allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted guests. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

A New Zealand hostel is under investigation after its owner allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted guests. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

SYDNEY (AP/PIX11) — The owner of a New Zealand tourist lodge has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting 16 guests, most of whom were from overseas.

Police said Wednesday that Michael Harris was charged with 39 offenses against 16 men, including indecent assault, drugging a victim to facilitate an indecent assault and making intimate visual recordings. Harris owns the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia.

The guests were mostly overseas tourists between ages 18 and 25 who stayed in the owner’s home at the lodge over the past two and a half years. The lodge has a hostel, hotel rooms and also offers longer-term accommodation in the owner’s residence.

There is an ongoing investigation and police are asking people to come forward.

“It is very important for us to speak to anybody who has stayed in the owner’s residence over the last two and a half years,” Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston told the New Zealand Herald.

“These victims are unlikely to know that something has happened to them, although they may have suspicions.”