The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 June-Dec

The Press
November 16, 1993

Ritual Abuse Therapist to present Christchurch Seminar
by Martin Van Beynen

An American ritual abuse therapist cited as an authority, during the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre case will present a seminar in Christchurch this week.

Ms Pamela Hudson has been brought to Christchurch by the Campbell Centre, a counselling service funded by Presbyterian Support Services.

Ms Hudson's name cropped up during the preliminary hearing into the creche charges in December last year. A woman witness, whose son implicated creche workers in a circle incident, admitted calling for Ms Hudson to be brought to New Zealand. She said she doubted the ability of counsellors in Christchurch to work in the area of ritual abuse.

Allegations of ritual abuse surfaced during the police inquiry into the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre this year. A six-year-old boy recounted the circle-type incident in the fourth of five interviews conducted with him by interviewers from the Department of Social Welfare. Among other allegations, the boy claimed children had been forced to stand naked in a circle and made to kick each other while "slit-eyed" people in white suits stood around playing guitars.

The allegations formed the basis of charges laid against three women creche workers who were later discharged.

The director of the Campbell Centre, Mr Bruce McNatty, said the seminar had no specific connection with the creche case.

It had been organised by a previous director of the Centre, Ms Rosemary Smart, he said. The Christchurch City Council commissioned Ms Smart to prepare a report on the creche in March 1992. When it was released, after the conviction of creche worker Peter Ellis on child abuse charges in July, Ms Smart was highly critical of creche staff. They had missed obvious signs identifying Ellis as a potential sex abuser, she said. Ms Smart is at present overseas,

Mr McNatty said Ms Hudson wanted to keep a low profile as the "very controversial" issue had been sensationalised in the past, he said. The seminar was entirely self-funding. Advertising material for it includes the heading: "Ritual Abuse is Currently in the News. Some People Say There is No Such Thing. Therapists and Counsellors are Seeing More of It "

In biographical material Ms Hudson says she was introduced to ritual abuse in 1985 when she realised a number of children she was counselling had been abused at the same creche. After eight months in private counselling the children began talking about being buried in coffins, of adults in cloaks and masks, dead babies, animal sacrifices, and circles with lighted candles.

Therapists like Ms Hudson have come under worldwide attack with detractors accusing them of planting false ideas in the minds of children through therapy.

In February, Presbyterian Support Services organised workshops by a Canadian sexual abuse expert, Dr Judith Myers-Avis, on therapy dealing with repressed memories and multiple personalities.

Survivors of alleged ritual abuse refer to the abuse first coming to light when memories of the abuse surface in therapy. Trauma linked to the abuse caused the memories to be repressed until recovery in therapy, they say.