Thursday, May 13, 1993.
Creche Child alleges ‘some touching’ by accused
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
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
Her children had some contact with another complainant in early 1992 but she
could recall them making only one comment about the creche.