The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 June-Dec

Television New Zealand
July 7 1993

Child Abuse
Presenter: Ian Fraser

Counterpoint debates the issue of the sexual abuse of children in New Zealand with studio guests Doctor Miriam Saphira, senior psychologist with the Social Welfare Department, and Michael Marris, psychotherapist.


02:41      TITLES Counterpoint .

02:56      PRESENTER Ian Fraser to CAMERA .

03:06      INSET B/W STILL Woody Allen and Mia Farrow .

03:08      INSET B/W STILL Woody Allen with Mia Farrow holding baby .

03:10      INSET STILL covers of Time and Newsweek picturing Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's adopted daughter Soon Yi Previn who Woody Allen had an affair with .

03:11      INSET STILL Mia Farrow and her children .

03:14      PAN to STILL Woody Allen .

03:16      PRESENTER to CAMERA .

03:25      INSET STILL Judge Peter Boshier, GRAPHICS his statement that all sexual abuse allegations are to be passed to Police and Social Welfare officials .

03:35      PRESENTER to CAMERA .

03:54      INSET STILL Mr Justice Temm, GRAPHIC his statement law requires proof that the allegation is probably true not that it is possibly true .

04:01      PRESENTER to CAMERA.

04:07      (LCT) 10 October 1992 Peter Ellis carrying dog, walking to letterbox .

04:10      (SF) Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre, Christchurch, with large tree and sign .

04:12      (SF) child playing with doll .

04:14      (SF) woman in office sitting at desk .

04:16      (SF) writing on piece of paper .

04:18      (SF) children's playground .

04:20      PRESENTER to CAMERA introducing studio guest Doctor Miriam Saphira, Senior Psychologist, Social Welfare Department .

04:24      MCU Doctor Miriam Saphira .

04:41      PRESENTER to CAMERA introducing studio guest Michael Marris, psychotherapist .

04:46      MCU Michael Marris .

04:52      I/V Miriam Saphira re criticism of way family courts operate supporting view that we have an unfair system which is loaded against men, issue of protection of children, continuum between lots of evidence and no evidence of sexual abuse with grey area in between, not a black and white issue, a complex issue, hard to say categorically whether sexual abuse has occurred or not, injustice towards one of partners in family court hearings, isolation of children from fathers, need for contact and access to be maintained with abusing parent .

07:35      I/V Michael Marris re false allegations of sexual abuse, unfair handling of sexual abuse cases by system, Temm judgement, excess of zealotry and inequities of incompetence characterising family court issues, presumption of guilt if accused of sexual abuse, inability of people to prove innocence in sexual abuse cases until very recently, fathers bearing brunt of family court issues, fathers feeling they are guilty without trial before sexual abuse issues come to court .

09:14      I/V Miriam Saphira re disturbed people who make allegations of sexual abuse without foundation, not zealousness on part of sexual abuse investigators in family court, professionalism on part of sexual abuse investigators .

10:46      I/V Michael Marris re Miriam Saphira representing zealot faction, need for failures of past to be redressed by excesses of present, zealotry had a role to play (INTERJECTION Miriam Saphira), issues of sexual abuse need to be brought into the open and addressed and taken to task, children thinking they have been sexually abused when they haven't one of excesses of zealotry, need for balance now .

12:19      I/V Miriam Saphira re excesses do not come from zealotry, certainly on her part and professionals she knows, but from disturbed people who make sexual abuse allegations .

12:37      I/V Michael Marris re does not see many malicious allegations but incompetent professionals in family court who do not have knowledge of subtleties and complexities of family dynamics, excesses of present do redress failures of past where children routinely disbelieved in sexual abuse cases, now time for balance .

13:36      I/V Miriam Saphira re we haven't gone too far, public see sexual abuse out of context, sexual abuse is part of a range of abuse of children such as emotional and physical abuse of children, enormous amount of publicity about issue of sexual abuse and specific cases of sexual abuse, Otago research into sexual abuse found no increase between 1920 and 1970 but more cases reported in 1970s, won't know if more sexual abuse occurring for some time to come, age of children disclosing sexual abuse now younger than in 1975 when started working in the area of sexual abuse .

15:22      I/V Michael Marris re definition of sexual abuse never found any universal agreement, sometimes he would love somebody to wolf whistle at him, matter of how one perceives sexual abuse .

15:52      I/V Miriam Saphira re professionals dealing with inappropriate unwanted sexual touching of children, there are other types of abuse .

17:08      I/V Miriam Saphira re difficult to refute an allegation of sexual abuse, don't know how we can get around that, alleged view that it is a lesser evil for men to be wrongfully convicted than for one child abuser to go free, hopes that no one gets wrongly convicted of child abuse, there are men in her life, she is not the sort of person people make her out to be, cares about men, women and children in community, would like child abuse to stop and us to change way children are growing up to become abusers of all types .

18:47      I/V Michael Marris re men do get wrongly convicted in both criminal and especially the family court, family court less rigorous, answers lie in (Justice) Temm judgement and need for more rigour in family court .


23:13      PRESENTER to CAMERA re only identifying first names of callers because of nature of subject and legally prevented from saying anything that might identify anyone involved in family court proceedings .

23:39      V/O telephone home viewer caller Joan, Hamilton, re who to contact for help for legal costs if anyone in family wrongfully accused of sexual abuse .

25:03      I/V Michael Marris re this is a common story, knows of nobody who can help those wrongfully accused of sexual abuse, legal aid criteria much tighter now, caller will remain angry, bitter and broke .

26:02      I/V Miriam Saphira re system does seem unfair that caller not entitled to legal aid, many convicted offenders had large legal costs .

26:54      PRESENTER to CAMERA, V/O telephone home viewer caller Keith, Christchurch, re what qualifications Social Welfare workers need to carry out evidential interviews in sexual abuse cases .

27:17      I/V Miriam Saphira re sexual abuse evidential interviewers have range of tertiary qualifications, all have lot of supervision, credentials vetted very closely when cases go to court, unfair to label them radical lesbian feminists who hate men and want to break up families, definition of radical lesbian feminist different for different people, concern that accusations about her are not targeted at others working in the area of child sexual abuse .

30:25      I/V Michael Marris re people attracted to working in area of child sexual abuse because of their own histories or their own agendas, level of professional competence of assessors varies from one place and person to another, should not be a subjective area but clinical and rigorous and exacting .

31:18      PRESENTER to CAMERA, V/O telephone home viewer Molly, Wellington, re who makes sure that children are questioned about sexual abuse at their own level and when does the judge step in .

32:07      I/V Michael Marris re judges do step in, most of interviewing in court does not follow callers experience of lawyers questioning of her daughter, there is no easy answer .

32:47      I/V Miriam Saphira re there are lawyers who do not understand techniques of questioning children .

33:03      PRESENTER to CAMERA, V/O telephone home viewer caller Jill, Auckland, re runs supervised access centre, are there many successful prosecutions for false complaint .

33:48      I/V Michael Marris re false complaint an unusual circumstance, confusion happens at level of experts, (Justice) Temm case outcome that father had not abused child, whether system loaded for or against accused person, election of doubt, cannot take away risk in life .

36:12      PRESENTER to CAMERA, V/O telephone home viewer caller Keith, Wellington, re family life is destroyed by disclosure of sexual abuse, are there people in Social Welfare Department ensuring children have quality relationships with their fathers, what are the views of the children .

37:21      I/V Miriam Saphira re many who care about relationships children have with fathers, rearing children so they don't become abusers .

39:12      PRESENTER to Miriam Saphira and CAMERA .


43:11      I/V Miriam Saphira re no follow up or research carried out into children at centre of allegations of sexual abuse, would be useful .

44:14      I/V Michael Marris re it is a fraud carried out on children when false accusations have been raised .

44:45      PRESENTER to CAMERA, V/O telephone home viewer caller Tracy, Hamilton, re what should mothers do when their child tells them he or she is being sexually abused by the father .

45:05      I/V Miriam Saphira re mother needs to get assistance .

45:16      I/V Michael Marris re Family Court Review paper views sexual abuse as a crime and maybe arena should be criminal court so people to contact are the police, caring professions tend to view suspect as guilty .

46:42      I/V Miriam Saphira re child is not believed against the balance of the evidence, lots of things checked, how child is interviewed .

47:36      I/V Michael Marris re hard to separate grey areas where behavioural symptoms are mimicked by normal disturbances children usually display when parents and families are in crisis .

47:59      PRESENTER to CAMERA .

48:08      CREDITS .

48:22      END.