The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews


Massey University Extramural Students' Society Inc
Off Campus March 2002

A City Possessed
Book Review by Peter Hawes

A City Possessed:
The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
by Lynley Hood.
Publisher: Longacre Press 2001

Lynley Hood's deconstruction of the Ellis case has been reviewed plenteously and fairly enough - I have yet to read a critique that disagrees with her findings. But none have captured the outrage that the book has engendered in many breasts.

 My own humble view is that it was a witch hunt of Ellis and I ask: how would those who wittingly or unwittingly took part in this witch hunt feel if they were confronted with the same basis of evidence as was used against Ellis? I'm confident your opinion will reflect mine once you have read this governmentally non-existent book. To illustrate, here's some quotes from a page or two.

 (To protect the children's identities, families are named after trees - Ms Magnolia, Ms Dogwood, Ms Hickory, Ms Lacebark, Ms Cypress, Ms Laurel.  'S' is Sue Sidey, one of three DSW interviewers, trained by the eponymous Dr Karen Zelas.)

"S:        You told Mum that someone had touched your bottom and your vagina.

T(ess): Did I?

S:         Yeah, with their fingers.

T:         Who was it? Did I say?"

"'He killed all the people with axes,' said Ryan. 'He killed all the boys not me cos I, I'm too fast for him... I'm really just joking,' he said, 'I'm really just telling things. He pulled off my tummy button...with pliers. ...He pulled um he put some cellotape on my penis and he took it off and blood came out of it... I'm just joking at the moment...Actually there was so much was all gone and I wasn't alive.'

 First, Cathy Crawford, in consultation with her supervisor Dr Karen Zelas, accepted that Ryan had made a genuine disclosure of sexual abuse. Next, Detective Colin Eade accepted that Ryan had provided evidence of an offence. Then, Crown prosecutor Chris Lange accepted that the charge of indecent assault laid by Eade was reliable enough to go to court."

 "Next day, she (mother) asked Bart if Peter had ever touched his bottom or penis. 'Peter wouldn't do that to me,' Bart said. 'He's my friend.' This response left Ms Dogwood with 'a gut feeling that there was something more to come out', and she raised the subject with her son repeatedly over the coming weeks."

"S:        So um who lives with Peter?

K(ari):   Oh he lives by himself.

S:         Right, and does he have some friends?

K:         Um of course he does yes, lots of friends, bad friends. His family don't like him though.

S:         How do you know that?

K:         Because Mummy telled me.

S: ...     Oh and what were they doing there when you went there, his friends?

K:         They were showing the penis and the gina.

In response to further questioning Kari said that a man named Joseph 'teased' her with his penis. But when Sidey invited her to demonstrate the 'teasing' using naked anatomically correct dolls, the pubic hair on the male doll threw her into confusion.

K:         What is it?

S:         Have you never seen that before on a -

K:         No.

S: -       near a penis.

K:         No. What is it?

S:         What do you think it is?

K:         I don't know.

 The police were unable to identify the location of the alleged 'teasing'. Nor could they establish the identity of the mysterious Joseph. But they laid a charge anyway. At the trial of Peter Ellis, Count 23 of the 28-count indictment read: 'that Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis between May 1989 and 30 July 1991 at Christchurch did indecently assault Kari Lacebark a girl under the age of 12 years in that he took the child to an unknown address where an unknown man put his penis in her vagina'. Ellis was found guilty on this charge."

"How did you get back to the crèche?

Daddy picked us up and took us back.

I don't think Daddy remembers this.

No, it was Marie. She picked us up and took us back to the crèche.

Since Marie Keys could not drive, this version of Kari's story was even more unlikely than her previous one."

 "But for Ellis to have offended on the scale alleged...he (Crown Soliciter Brent Stanaway) needed co-offenders as well. ...To cope with this problem Brent Stanaway found a solution that was as understated as it was ingenious: he put Peter Ellis on trial with the Great Christchurch Paedophile Ring as his phantom co-defendants.

 ...Since they were not identified or charged the Crown did not have to explain to the jury who Ellis's co-defendants were or what they were supposed to have done..."

Interview of Sue Sidey by Lynley Hood.

 SS:      People were beginning to fear for their safety... they thought they might be - their children or themselves might be silenced in some way. attack or whatever...(by) People who were supporters of the alleged offenders. Or even the alleged offenders themselves.

 "What did you think prompted the Magnolias and other parents to make the complaints?' she asked. 'Malice? A sense of mischief? Voyeuristic pleasure?...'"

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Massey University Extramural Students' Society Inc., New Zealand