The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews


Journal of Contemplative Spirituality: "Refresh"
Vol 2 No 1
Winter 2002

A City Possessed
Book Review by Ian Stephenson

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

A City Possessed is a carefully researched and extensively documented record of the Christchurch Civic Creche Case. Lynley Hood’s analyses of the events of this case are discussed within a historical, sociological and legal context. Before publication in 2001 A City Possessed was extensively previewed in the media and it was widely reviewed subsequently.

Why draw readers’ attention to this book again. Here are three reasons:

Firstly, it deals with much wider issues for our society than the “Peter Ellis” case. Despite the prediction of some reviewers, this book has not provoked the anticipated public reactions. The Justice Minister, Phil Goff, has been reported as saying that he would not read this book – the legal system had taken its full course. Yet well-argued rebuttals could have been expected. The analysis and critical conclusions regarding the procedures, as well as judgements made of the behaviours of some of the people involved are evocative. Part of the answer may lie in the author’s discussion of the balance between the government in power and the bureaucracy at large, but especially the police and judiciary.

Secondly, it is possible for the professional person dealing with cases of sexual abuse – child care workers, social workers, sexual abuse counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, police, lawyers, members of the judiciary, etc – to read through the extensive documentation and reach their own conclusions on the information provided. Would you have acted in this way? Do you agree with Hood’s analysis and conclusions?

Thirdly, any adult citizen who could be called for jury service can read this book and develop some understanding of our current laws with regard to sexual abuse, their interpretation and the procedures used in giving evidence. You might then ask yourself what you would have done had you been a juror on this case.

A thought provoking read for all, including spiritual directors … but set aside sufficient time to cope with the 672 pages of text and references!

This book has won a place in the finals of the Montana Book Awards, Historical Section, June 2002.