The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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This page last updated January 29 2006

2003-0600 - Evasion - The Fall Guy
by Anne Mathers - Reading Lynley Hood's exact and exacting account of the Christchurch Civic Creche child abuse case, you imagine it must have taken a person of perfect composure and delicate negotiating skills to get it written. The case of four female and one male crèche worker charged with horrific sexual abuse of numerous children in their care divided the small city in the early 1990s. Charges against the women were thrown out, but Peter Ellis, the sole man charged with the crimes, spent seven years in prison, and was released in early 2000 as one of New Zealand's most notorious child sex offenders.

2003-0528 - The Press - The Quality of Mercy      
By Matt Conway - A Justice ministry review has recommended setting up an independent board, perhaps chaired by a retired judge, to investigate wrongful conviction claims. The proposal echoes Britain’s Criminal Cases Review Commission, launched in 1997 to probe suspected miscarriages of justice. Its genesis was the disquieting Birmingham Six affair, in which six men were wrongly jailed for IRA pub bombings. The review here was prompted by the increasing complexity and number of mercy pleas (55 in the last eight years), including such high profile cases as convicted child abuser Peter Ellis…..

2003-0420 - Sunday Star Times - Offenders' mercy system in for rejig   
by Deidre Mussen -- An overhaul is planned for the system used by convicted offenders claiming a miscarriage of justice. A Justice Ministry discussion paper on the royal prerogative of mercy system recommends establishing an independent body to consider petitions. It was prompted by the increasing number and complexity of petitions over the past five years and changes overseas for miscarriage of justice cases.

2003-0420 - Sunday Star Times - Campaigners give up on Ellis over net dispute
by Amie Richardson -- Convicted child abuser Peter Ellis' longest campaigner has given up the fight to clear his name after a dispute over whether Ellis should buy a computer. Supporter Winston Wealleans, who has campaigned for Ellis for 10 years, said he encouraged him to buy a computer so he could access and exchange information with people over the internet. Ellis refused

2003-0415 --Otago Daily Times - Letter to the Editor by Suzanne George 
I perceive a mind-set and inconsistency in Lynley Hood's research into alleged child sexual abuse in her book, A City Possessed. She states "credibility will be destroyed if [biographers] ignore their responsibility to tell readers the whole story, without fear or favour". That rule applies to all so-called academia. I challenge the apparent failure to fully investigate why, during the 1970s, a critical mass of women (not necessarily radical feminists) took decisive action against both sexual and domestic violence, why there was a proliferation in women's studies courses, and a perceived failure to fully explore recovered memory, among other one-sided inconsistencies

            Follow up Correspondence:

2003-0429 - Otago Daily Times - Letter by Suzanne George
My lawyer interacts with social workers and they try to deal with the sexual abuse epidemic.

2003-0508 - Otago Daily Times - Letter by Lynley Hood
A City Possessed ... contains many substantiated examples of ACC fraud based on false allegations of sexual abuse

2003-0508 - Otago Daily Times - Letter by Mel Tapp
I have found Lynley Hood's book well researched and fail to see how any fair-minded person could feel justice was done in this case

2003-0508 - Otago Daily Times - Letter by Dave Witherow
Suzanne George still doesn't know what she's talking about

2003-0519 - Otago Daily Times - Letter by Suzanne George
Many women feel betrayed by this book

2003-0411 - Maxim Institute - Teaching the young  
It's no surprise that a decade after the conviction of Peter Ellis in the Christchurch Civic Creche case the proportion of men in early childhood education (ECE) has fallen from 2 percent to 1 percent.

2003-0409 - Independent - Govt plans another constitutional change - in secret
by Jenni McManus - At present, the Governor-General, acting on the advice of her ministers, can issue a pardon without reference to the courts if the government believes this is warranted, as happened with Arthur Allan Thomas....... Alternatively, the matter can be referred back to the Court of Appeal under the Crimes Act, as happened recently with Peter Ellis, David Dougherty and David Bain.

2003-0402 - Otago Daily Times - Independent, regionally-based appeal court is needed
by Fred Fastier --  An international appeal court based in the South Pacific might be a better option than the Government's proposed Supreme Court as New Zealand's final court of appeal .....

 ...... Recently, many New Zealanders have been reading Lynley Hood's A City Possessed. This is a detailed account, not only of the trial of Peter Ellis, but also of the building up of a climate of opinion that almost certainly precluded a fair trial. Due to the efforts of pressure groups, Parliament has so altered the rules of evidence obtaining in child abuse trials that the scales of justice were savagely tipped against the defendant. Witnesses are ordinarily required to give evidence in person and to be subject to cross-examination, because that is thought to make it much easier for the judge and jury to assess the credibility of the evidence.

In the Christchurch creche case, the children did not appear in court, their evidence being provided in the form of videotapes. It was presumed that children of even that tender age would be telling the truth. As it happened, the oldest subsequently admitted that his evidence was false. It is difficult to imagine how some of the acts that Mr Ellis was alleged to have committed could have taken place at all, let alone without their having been witnessed by adults; yet no adult witnesses of these acts were produced by the prosecution. Its case was based on what could be deduced from videotapes featuring preschool children.

Why do I mention this case? My basic concern is the part played in it by defective legislation. Altering rules of evidence made it possible to obtain a conviction that almost certainly would not have resulted had the ordinary rules applied

2003-0400 -  Journal Australia NZ College of Psychiatrists - Review of A City Possessed 
Review by Lisa Brown -- W
hether or not you agree with author Lynley Hood's views on the falseness of the allegations is not the point of reading this book; the book effectively raises questions that anyone in the area of child sexual abuse will find interesting and challenging.

2003-0319 - NZ Herald - New look at no touch teaching
by Theresa Garner --  . A teachers' policy of avoiding physical contact with children is under review after new research found a vicious circle of self-surveillance and anxiety. University of Auckland education lecturer Alison Jones interviewed 55 primary school teachers and principals on their reluctance to touch children because of widespread social anxiety about sexual abuse.

2003-0303 - NZEI: Rourou - What’s all the fuss about?
New January 29 2006
The "touch" issue is a biggie in early childhood, particularly since the Christchurch Crèche case involving Peter Ellis, who was jailed for sex offences against children in his care. "For me, it always sits there - that one day there might be an accusation," Wilson says.

2003-0224 - Minister Justice - Press Conference
Hon Phil Goff -
The charges on which Peter Ellis had been convicted were properly found. That was supported by the independent evidence of two international experts in child abuse and the hearing of evidence of child witnesses. Given that advice, there was no other conclusion that I could come to but that the matter not proceed. I have invited Mr Ellis and his advisers and supporters that they are able to lodge a petition for the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy. The criteria that are required for that are that there needs to be new evidence that has not already been considered before a court of law.

2003-0222 - Daily News - Right to do anything should have no gender limitations  
Editorial -
There are more subtle and insidious changes as well that are shifting the balance in ways that will hurt all society. The vexing issue of claims of sexual misbehaviour is an example where the males are automatically mistrusted. People like Peter Ellis claim to be among the ultimate victims, but so are a host of other men -- from school teachers to some fathers who are scared to be left alone with children

2003-0202 - Sunday Star Times - Where's the evidence for war?
by Frank Haden - Peter Ellis, falsely accused in the Christchurch Civic Creche case, will have recognised the cynicism of Iraq being told the lack of evidence of hidden weapons is proof it has them. Ellis was told the lack of evidence to back up the children's allegations was proof he was guilty. We are told to prove we don't have any weapons, the Iraqis say. How can we prove a negative? Ellis couldn't prove it, either.

2003-0120 - Southland Times - Looking into a deviant's mind  
Editorial -
As the risks become better known, the protective instincts of society kick in, understandably, though in ways not always appropriate. Many now believe the conviction of Peter Ellis in the Christchurch civic creche case was, at best, unsafe.  Dr John Edgar was emphatically acquitted of eight charges of indecency against Hamilton children, though only after a nightmare of recriminations and reproach. More than that, though, the climate of suspicion is making it harder for men to enter teaching ranks or, for that matter, to show such innocent displays of affection as gathering a child into their lap.

2003-0115 - Christchurch Star - Notable police career earns QSM   
Police officers could write a book about phone calls in the middle of the night which change their lives for months on end, says new Queens Service Medal recipient and ex-cop Brian Pearce. The former CIB Detective Inspector was awarded his QSM in the New Year's honours list. ....... cases he has worked on included ....administration level work in the civic creche

2003-0111 - NZ Herald - The courage of conviction
by Paula Oliver --  . Writer Lynley Hood, who wrote the award-winning book A City Possessed: the Christchurch Civic Creche Case, is not a campaigner in the Karam style. She is seen as an advocate for Peter Ellis - the man convicted of abusing children in a creche - but in fact, approached her task not caring if he was guilty or innocent. She says she was interested in the panic surrounding child sex cases and how public outrage could outweigh the scales of justice. It was only as she researched that she began to see flaws in the case against Ellis and the way the justice system handled the complaints. "It was an uncomfortable position to find myself in. I wasn't used to taking sides in my books."

2003-0110 - NZ Herald - Question time: Don Brash, National  
Question: What book are you reading at present?
Brash: A City Possessed by Lynley Hood, the Peter Ellis story. It's a profoundly disturbing book.