The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
Thursday, May 13, 1993.

Creche Child alleges ‘some touching’ by accused

A child complainant had asked other workers at the Christchurch Civic Creche to help stop sexual abuse committed by the man now facing trial on abuse charges, the High Court was told yesterday.

The last of 13 complainants in the trial said a teacher had seen the accused, Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, aged 35, commit indecencies on children in the toilets at the creche, but Ellis had only "pretended to listen" when the teacher told him off.

The girl, now aged seven, said she had told other creche workers "Peter was doing secret touching", but although they had tried to help he kept on doing it.

Ellis denies 25 charges of sexually abusing children in his care at the creche between, 1986 and 1992.

The girl was interviewed three times in March last year and the first of the recorded interviews was shown to the court yesterday. The Crown bases charges of sexual violation and indecent assault on the interview.

After saying she had disliked Ellis tickling her at the creche, the complainant said Ellis had made children, including her, put his penis in their mouths. He had made her "real scared" and she had run out and told a teacher.

On other occasions, Ellis had touched "our private parts" with his hands. It had happened "lots of times" sometimes "through our clothes" and sometimes "on the toilet".

He had told her not to tell anyone or he would change her into a gherkin and eat her. She had thought "he was telling the truth".

Cross-examined by Mr Robert Harrison, for Ellis, she said she could remember reading a book about bad touching before talking to her mother about Ellis.
She said she could remember her mother asking her before she was interviewed if Ellis had put his penis in her mouth or touched her bottom.

The incidents had only occurred in an area outside the toilet cubicles, but closed off from the main play area. Two teachers had witnessed Ellis commit the abuse against her in the area outside the toilets.

The mother of the girl and her complainant brother, the 12th child to give evidence, said both children had attended the creche at the age of 18 months until starting school.
She said her son starting having toileting problems soon after starting at the "big end" of the creche. He started "holding on" and was reluctant to go to the toilets at the creche. After he turned four he became fearful of burglars and set up booby traps in his bedroom.

He collected animal skulls, which he put on has bedroom sill to ward off burglars.

Although his toileting problem stopped after the first interview, his anxieties became worse after the second interview and he became frightened about Ellis coming through the window at night.

Her son, when about four and a half, had become horrified when another complainant in the case had started masturbating in the back of a car while they were driving to a farm for a visit.

He was also reluctant to touch his own penis. After the interview process was completed, he started to improve and she had noticed a considerable improvement once he was started on anti-depressants.

Her daughter had initially been happy to go to the creche but began to have major tantrums on going to or leaving the creche. Bad nightmares began after she had turned four and the frequency of these decreased after she made disclosures about Ellis.

In February last year, another creche parent told her her daughter had been mentioned by another child. One Saturday morning the family had been in bed together and she asked the children if they wanted to talk about the creche.

They became "giggly" and distracted in a hyper-excited sort of way and while her son did not want to talk, her daughter indicated she did.

She was trembling and frightened "in a way I have only seen in a psychiatric hospital". She had told her that other children had said Ellis had put his penis in their mouths and another child "had seen it done to you".

Her daughter had slopped trembling and her mood lightened instantly. She indicated the accusation was correct, the woman said. Her children knew their own minds and were clear that they were recalling their own experiences at the creche, she said.

To Mr Harrison, she agreed her son had only complained about Ellis tickling, stealing gherkins, and general bullying at his first interview. But the disclosures were at odds with his "degree of fear", she said.

She and her partner could pick when their children were preoccupied with the creche and would question them on their initiative, she said. Her son preferred questions which he could answer with a "yes or no", although such questioning had occurred only three or four times throughout 1992.

Her children had some contact with another complainant in early 1992 but she could recall them making only one comment about the creche.