The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

News Reports

2001 Jan-June

The Press
March 15, 2001

Fresh allegations surface in Ellis case
by Yvonne Martin

A fresh complainant in the Peter Ellis case went to police, after consulting a lawyer and the Children's Commissioner, Roger McClay.

The 18-year-old Christchurch man and his family had approached police a while ago over his allegations that he had been sexually abused by Ellis at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre and off the premises.

The Press understands he contacted police again this year, and made a formal complaint in January.

Police are not commenting on how they are treating the complaint, and the Crown Law Office will not confirm whether it has been referred to it for consideration.

Ellis, freed in February last year after serving two-thirds of a 10-year sentence for his conviction on 13 charges of abusing children, has continued to maintain his innocence.

His latest bid for a pardon was rejected on Tuesday. Justice Minister Phil Goff said that a ministerial inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum found Ellis's case failed by a "distinct margin" to prove his conviction was unsafe.

Kathryn Johnston, co-ordinator for the Support Network for Parents and Caregivers of Sexually Abused Children, said the latest complainant was spurred into action by Ellis's release from prison.

"Peter's release from prison, and his continuing protestations of innocence, were the major trigger for him (the complainant) to go forward," said Ms Johnston, who is supporting the complainant and his family.

"He was only at the creche a short time, but he still suffers a lot with psychological effects of abuse."

The complainant has been told by police not to talk to the media. Ms Johnston confirmed he played no part in the initial court proceedings, and had no further contact with the other children once he left the creche.

He laid his complaint with the police after talking to a lawyer, and to Mr McClay, who visited Christchurch last year soon after Ellis's release.

Mr McClay said yesterday that he was not surprised to hear from the complainant, and said he knew of others outside the court proceedings feeling "wounded, sad, and concerned".

"These people mainly want some admission and some expressions of sorrow and apologies," Mr McClay said.

"It seems as though they will never get it from Ellis, and so they have to search around to see what other remedy there is for them.

"Having talked to this particular man, and some others, I understand where they are coming from. He is having trouble coping with it all."

Ellis's lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, said she knew nothing more about the allegations, other than what she heard on television news on Tuesday night.

"I'm afraid I can't help you," she said. "We've heard nothing more."

Detective Inspector Rob Pope said he could not comment on the matter at all.