The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
A six-year-old complainant in the trial of a former Christchurch Civic Crèche worker yesterday told the High Court he may have been mistaken in some of the allegations he had made.
Both counsel for the accused and the Crown referred the boy to a number of incidents he had previously related to the court. The boy said some of the incidents had really happened and some "I only think happened".
The boy was the fourth complainant to give evidence against Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, aged 35, who denies 28 charges of sexually abusing children in his care between 1986 and 1992.
The boy had previously told the court children had been made to crawl across a ladder between two high buildings at the crèche. When Mr Robert Harrison asked him if the incident had. really happened he said he thought it had happened.
When referred to his allegations contained in a videotaped interview previously played to the court that Ellis had urinated in his mouth and put a stick in his "bottom", the boy said those incidents had really happened. He was quite sure they had happened in the crèche toilets, but he could not remember other adults being present. He had no recall of telling Mr Brent Stanaway, for the Crown, that the stick had been "put in his bottom all day".
He sometimes forgot the things that had happened to him but did not know why, he said. He had been mistaken about an allegation he • made to Mr Stanaway that Ellis had taken him and other children to a house and put them in ovens.
When Ellis had "wee-ed in his mouth" the worker's hands were at his side, he said. He was not mistaken about the Incident.
When he was re-examined by Mr Stanaway; he said he thought the incident with the stick had happened. When questioned further he said it had happened.
His mother had not known about the "poos" and "wees" before he told her. "One of the parents had told her and she told me to see if anything happened to me," he said.
In her testimony his mother said her son began to have behavioural problems in his "late threes and fours" after he had started at the big kids' end of the crèche. He became frightened at night, started having nightmares, and night tremors.
He also became very angry with her and displayed odd sexualised behaviour such as running about the house shouting "I'm the penis man" and trying to unzip his grandfather's trousers.
Before leaving the crèche in October 1991, her son had told her Ellis had done "wees and pops" on the faces of the children. He then said he was only joking and ran off.
Her son was toilet trained by the age of 2 1/2 but after the age of about four would hold on for long periods before going to the toilet and would only use the toilet at home.
After he had disclosed about Ellis, for three weeks he had not been able to go to the toilet without someone standing outside, she said.
After the concerns about abuse at the crèche were raised at a meeting in December 1991, she had questioned him generally about games and teachers at the crèche but had not put the contentions about the "wees" and the stick to him. She had told him some children at the crèche had said Ellis had pulled down their pants and touched their bottoms, and asked him if it was true.
Her son had contact with two other complainants In the trial who lived in the same street as they did and she had contact with (he parents of those complainants.
In cross-examination she said her son's disclosures were very intense, very powerful, and she had accepted what he said. In June or July last year another parent had given her a list of things Ellis was alleged to have done. She had told the parent about her son's disclosures and the parent was going to put them on the list.
The list contained a reference to "sticks up bottoms" and she agreed it was possible her son heard her talking about items on the list on the telephone before he disclosed.
Re-examined by Mr Stanaway she said her son really thought he would die after he had disclosed the allegations about Ellis.