Saturday, 6 March, 1993.
Charges against creche workers reduced
Three of four
women accused In the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre sex abuse inquiry
now face reduced charges.
A pre trial conference was held in the High Court yesterday to finalise the
charges faced by the four women and one man accused of committing indecencies
on children in their care.
After the conference, Deborah Janet Gillespie, aged 30, was discharged on the
one charge remaining against her.
The four charges originally faced by Gaye Davidson. Marie Keys, and Janice
Buckingham included indecent assault and sexual violation. The charges are
now believed to have been reduced to one charge each of indecent assault.
Peter Hugh Ellis, who faced 42 charges, is now believed to be facing 30
Mr Justice Williamson discharged Gillespie and Ellis on a charge of indecent
assault after hearing that the girl who made the allegation would not be
available to give evidence.
Flowers and hugs greeted Ms Gillespie as she left the dock to "meet a
group of supporters. including her parents.
In a short statement outside the court she said she was "very, very
Her counsel, Mr Gerald Nation, said Ms Glllespie's ordeal was over in one
sense but "in lots of ways it s not over for this woman.
“What has sustained her over the last many months has been the knowledge of
her own innocence and the unflinching support of those who know her
The draft indictment containing the charges to be faced by the remaining four
accused was not available to the media yesterday.
Their High Court trial has been scheduled for April 26, and the hearing of
pre-trial applications will begin on March 15.
The court has also been asked to review the decision of the District Court
Judge who committed the accused to trial and will in addition hear
applications to have the accused discharged for lack of evidence.
Mr Nation said it was appropriate that Ms Gillespie had been discharged,
presumed innocent, given the background to the case.
Ms Gillespie was originally charged with performing an indecent act in a
public place based on an allegation she had sexual intercourse with Ellis in
front of two children.
She also faced two charges of indecent assault based on an alleged incident
where she is said to have touched a complainant indecently in the presence of
Ellis and to have watched Ellis perform the same indecency.
After an 11-week depositions hearing Ms Gillespie was committed for trial on
the two indecent assault charges.
Mr Nation said the charges were based on the evidence of a child who began a
15 month stay at the creche at the age of 2½.
The allegations were made by the child at an interview that took place 18
months after the child had left the creche and 12 days after the arrest of
the women workers.
Before her disclosure interview the child had been questioned repeatedly by
her mother about possible abuse, thereby undermining the reliability of the
child s evidence, Mr Nation said.
Interviewers had given evidence that direct questions could suggest ideas to
children, and repeated questioning could cause children to form an
expectation of what was required, he said
According to the child's mother's evidence, the child had said she had not
been "bad touched" when her mother questioned her following Ellis s
arrest In March 1992.
After the women workers were arrested in October the child's mother had asked
the child if she was telling the truth about not being touched indecently.
After taking the child swimming the question about "bad touching"
had again been put to her and the answer had again been no.
That night the mother had taken the child Into her own bed and asked her if
she had been threatened with injury if she talked about the alleged abuse.
The child had said she did not want to talk about it and the next morning was
asked if she had left the creche “where bad things happened" and whether
she had to take her clothes off.
Before an interview arranged for October the child was told to go along and
talk about the bad things and that It was safe to do so