June 11 1993
Ellis co-workers deny missing warning signs
by Barry Clarke
The lawyer for
the four women discharged over the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre affair
has denied claims that they missed signs Peter Ellis might have been a child
Mr Gerald Nation was responding to a report commissioned by the Christchurch
City Council that implied staff should have been more aware of warning signs
shown by Ellis.
Ellis was convicted last week on 16 of 25 charges of sex abuse involving
children from the centre.
The report, prepared by Ms Rosemary Smart, a psychologist, after Ellis had
been arrested in early 1992, said he had shown behavioural problems that went
largely unchecked by other staff during his five years at the centre.
These included insulting, ridiculing, threatening, and humiliating children,
Ms Smart said.
However, Mr Nation said no staff members at the centre saw evidence of sexual
abuse while Ellis was employed there.
When concern over sexual abuse was first raised, the centre's supervisor, Ms Gaye
Davidson, "dealt with it immediately and appropriately".
Ms Davidson and two other centre workers were later arrested by the police
and charged with abusing children. A fourth was charged with doing an
indecent act with Ellis.
All four were discharged.
Mr Nation said many of the families who blamed the centre for what had
transpired had in the past been supportive of the staff.
"The tragedy of what has happened should not be made worse by
unjustified and subjective attacks now being made on staff who previously had
the respect and support of the people who depended on them," he said.
Mr Nation said an Education Review Office assessment of the centre in
November 1991 had praised the way it was run.
The report was completed before Ellis's suspension, which occurred later the