All names amended to match the pseudonyms used in A City Possessed
Bart Dogwood (DoB Mar 86) Age at first interview 6yrs 2mo
a) A large number (5) interviews spread over 5 months.
b) Considerable use of prompting, suggestive, and multiple-choice questions, particularly in obtaining detail.
c) Rarely challenges some of the more unusual aspects of described events special equipment and locations.
d) Occasionally used social influence.
e) Doll, toys, free ,hand drawing, body parts diagrams used.
f) Seems not to note inconsistencies within and between interviews on many alleged facts.
g) Bart requested the interviewer to ask
him questions (92/263) rather than give free narrative.
1.2 Potential sources of external contamination:
a) Family discussion and questioning by brother(s) and parents, including suggestive questioning by brother 'R' and mother.
b) Regular pre- and post-interview questioning by mother.
Mother and father drive child around city to assist location of sites.
c) Counselling sessions, counsellor informed of child's 'fears' by mother.
d) Pirate film ('Hook'), pirate toys, TV programmes
e) Possible maternal contact with other
1.3 Child's demeanour:
a) No evident indices of distress or
emotion at any time, even when describing numerous events, any one of which,
if experienced, would be expected to cause a young child significant trauma.
1.4 Unusual aspects:
a) Allegations are characterised by inclusion of a large number of unusual items, such as secret paasages and stairs, pirate chest. ladders, trapdoors,etc
b) Numbers of unusual locations, 'library, 'hospital/restaurant', etc.
c) Numbers of unusual characters in various unusual clothing.
d) Unusual acts, such as putting children in an oven.
2.1 Memory for children and staff:
2.1.1 Could only name Paul (friend) and Peter (staff) at first (pp7-8).
2.1.2 Said creche was good (p8) and that Peter was 'alright' when he went he did attend creche (p10).
2.1.3 Asked by the interviewer to tell her some of the things he had told his parents, he s lid, "I can't even remember."(p10)
2.2 Allegation of indecent touching:
2.2.1 Asked to relate what he had told his parents about the 'not good things' at creche, Bart stated, "Um he fiddled with my rude parts."(p10). Because he appeared reluctant to describe these, a body parts diagram was pmduced and Bart was asked to name various parts and to show where the 'rude parts' were (p11-15). he identified bum, dick (spelt out), belly button, tits, vagina (reluctantly). (Note: This process can be suggestive (Rawls, 1996), particularly if the child is asked to identify parts not associated with the specific allegations made to that point).
2.2.2 Bart described (pp15-16) the 'fiddling' as wobbling of his 'rude bits' in the toilets while he was being changed as a three year-old after soiling his pants. (Note: This reported memory is being produced from some three years previously, from an age when the child is not likely to be verbally sophisticated nor to necessarily store memories in verbal form).
2.2.3 Asked how he felt when Peter did this (p16), Bad said "I can't even remember". This response was ignored and followed by a suggestive question, " Can you remember how you felt? Was it a good feeling, or not a good feeling, or funny feeling?". Of the proffered options, Bart chose, "It felt, it felt a bit funny.". (Note: Given the initial inability to remember, it is problematic that a suggestive question now indicates suggestibility and gives ttie. impression of remembering. The demand characteristics of such questions, particularly if not remembering appears unsatisfactory through question repetition, may have the effect of putting children in the situation of feeling they have to provide an adult with an answer. They almost invariably select one of the proffered options (Walker et al., 1996). Whether the answer bears any relation to the truth is a matter of conjecture.).
2.2.4 Later (p17) another suggestive question is asked, "So did your pants come right off or just a wee way oft?", and answered, "Just a wee way off."
Comment: After three years is a child likely to remember this detail accurately or is he simply selecting one of the proffered options to satisfy the inquiring adult? The fact that the question gets an answer may lead one to believe the answer is accurate and to believe the child has a detailed memory of the distant event, forgetting that the questioner, who was not present at the event, was the one who selected and offered the answer choices. The writer sees this as problematic in an evidential context.
2.2.5 Exchanges on p19 make it apparent that there has been family discussion, as Bart talks of someone named John who had left the creche and who was described as 'he went away for the same thing as Peter', "I didn't even know he did that"; "Cos my mum and dad told me.". (Note: This exchange uses adult terms like 'he went away' referring to punishment / prison, and raises the issue of contamination, particularly casting Peter Ellis as a bad person).
2.2.6 Toys were produced in order for Bart to recreate the toilet area at the creche (pp20-22). (Note: Unless validated by reference to an actual plan, such reconstructions by a child may give a trier of fact an impression that actual memories are being generated, and thus add credibility to what might otherwise be an unsubstantiated creation). Bart now said (p21) that the changing occurred on a board. The interviewer suggested that this was located near the toilet (p21). Bart agreed. (Note: Bart earlier said in the toilets, p15). This is consolidated with another suggestive question, "You were outside the toilet, but you were in where all the toilets are, that part of the creche where all the toilets are?", Bart responded, "Yeah, what are you? Yeah I was in the toilets." The interviewer added suggestively, "But not right in in the toilet."(p21), "No." (p22). Later (p27), asked for more detail, Bart described a men's urinal (Note: A plan of the toilet facilities would help establish the accuracy of detail given by children).
Comment: In the above sequence, suggestive questioning precluded ascertaining relevant information from the child or effectively examining his memory for the place.
It is worth noting that Bart has a baby brother whom he may have seen being changed, this could provide a contaminating source of information used in this allegation.
2.2.7 Bart was asked (p26), "No. Did you ever see any other kids in the toilets with Peter?", he replied, "Well, I knew they were but I didn't see him do anything". And later (p28), "He didn't pull his pants down, so you didn't see any of his rude bits?" "No."; "He might have done it to other children.."; "..but not to me.". (Note: In effect, Bart is speculating perhaps on the basis of what he has heard in discussion at home, about other children. He is making it clear that he was not involved in any activities in the toilets with Peter Ellis.).
2.2.8 Asked (p29) "No. And Bart, has anyone else ever done anything like that to you, to your rude bits?", "No." (Note This adds to the denial of wider involvement reported in 2.2.7 above.). This was reaffirmed later in response to a leading question (p31).
2.2.9. Asked about exposure to others' 'rude bits', Bart reported (pp29-31)that he had seen those of family members. (Note: This may provide a source of knowledge contaminating later allegations).
2.2.10 Referring to having his penis wobbled, Bart was asked (p34), "How, how many times did it wobble from side to side do you think?". Bart replied, "Five." (Note: The validity of this answer is open to serious question, given the time lapse since the alleged event, the low probability that he actually counted at the time, and the low probability of accurate counting by a three year-old. It raises the issue of the readiness of children to speculate in making responses to questions when they are unlikely to know the actual answer. The response gives the impression of actually remembering detail. The impression for a trier of fact might be that this is indicative of accurate memory, hence such questions have dangers unless the facts can be independently validated.).
The problems of this particular interview include suggestive questioning questions that induce speculative answers, and attempts to produce detail using toys and dolls which relate to events allegedly occurring about three years previously when the complainant was aged three years. The level of development then, in terms of memory and language create difficulty in reasonably weighing the reliability of the reported events. These are further compounded by confounding influences of family questioning, and the presence of a baby brother, observation whom being changed may influence current memory for alleged earlier events.
In response to both open and direct questioning Bart indicated that no one else had done this to him, and that Peter Ellis had not done anything else to him in the toilets at creche. He speculated that things may have happened to other children, but not to him.
There was an absence of emotional responses, signs of distress or behaviours indicative of any evident emotional reaction in respect of the alleged experiences.
4.1 Allegation re bath with Peter Ellis and coprophagy:
4.1.1 Bart alleged that Peter used swear words about him ( Transcript p6) and that Peter had made him have a bath with him in an upstairs bathroom (p6) at Ellis' house (p7). Asked who was present, Bart said Ellis' friends were present and, after initial difficulty remembering any names, said "Hmm. I don't know, I can't remember. Something like Robert.". Asked to describe 'Robert', Bart described another of Peter's friends thus, "Hmm. He..I think one of his friends was old and had a beard."(p7). Some vague detail was obtained re clothing (p8). Asked what this other friend was doing Bart appeared to speculate, "Um, ah, I think he was just up and around.."; "..he was being smart with some other children.", asked which children, Bart could not remember. (Note: There is a lack of substance, but a skein of allegation that maintains the interviewer's attention).
4:1.2 Bart infers (p8) that Ellis undressed him, but then (p9) stated he himself had removed them.
4.1.3 In a confused sentence, Bart alleged coprophagy (p9), "He ah, he made me eat his poohs, ah, no, no he made me un yeah, he made me eat my poohs and then he said next time you come here I'll eat mine and he didn't." (Note 1: The interviewer made no attempt to clarify just whose poohs Bart had to eat. She assumed that it was Ellis' poohs. Note 2 This event is described in a very matter-of-fact way and the_ descriptions of mood at the time are somewhat bland, given that a child forced to eat faeces might be expected to evidence distress, fear, and extreme disgust, as well as considerable resistance).
4.1.4 After the bath, Bart said that Ellis had sworn about him and his family and had dressed up in a witch's suit and said "Ah, you tell your mamma I'll turn you into a frog and frogs are fuckin' dick-heads." and had dressed up as a judge and, "He said if you tell your mum or dad, you'll go to jail."
Comment: The act described and the emotion reportedly experienced at the time (sadness), simply do not match with the types of reaction that one might reasonably expect of a young child forced to eat faeces. Allegations of being made to have a bath with Ellis and of defecation in the bath were made by Tess Hickory (92/300 on 28.05.92; 92/467 on 03.08.9Z). It is of note that the latter interview of Tess Hickory occurred the day before the current interview of Bart Dogwood The question remains as to whether there was any contact between the two children or their parents concerning allegations which could have in any way influenced Bart Dogwood's report.
There is an element of
the fantastic in the dressing up as a witch and a judge.
4.2 Allegation of masturbating Peter Ellis:
4.2.1 Asked what else he [Ellis) had done, Bart replied, "Um, I made this white stuff come out of his penis."; "He made me touch his penis for a long time."; "[with] My hand"(p12). Asked to demonstrate, Bart appeared to make a clasping motion with his hand. A direct question followed, "And did it move or stand still, your hand? Did your hand move or stay still?". "I made it stay still."(p12). Ellis' hands allegedly were holding his penis (p13) and the 'white stuff' went on the floor and in the toilet. The locations were Ellis' house and the creche (p13).
Comment: Children of this age do not tend to have a sound knowledge of erection and ejaculation. Bart may have learned this from the experience he described or from his adolescent brothers or parents (He later revealed that he knew this from the latter, see Transcript p23).
4.2.2 Asked what Ellis' penis felt like (p14), Bart described it thus, "It felt like soft skin.". Asked suggestively, "Was it hanging down or sticking out?" (p15), Bart described it as 'hanging down' and shows his pen sloped downward. In response the interviewer appeared to use a felt pen to illustrate a more erect penis and said, "Hmm Hmm. Do you, you know when penises stick out.", to which Bart responded, "Yeah, it was.". The interviewer said, "Go straight.", to which Bart replied (demonstrating with pen against hand) "Actually, this is his body and that's the thing hanging down there like that." (The penis was shown pendulant relative to the hand.) The interviewer added, "Ok, and then the white stuff came out?", "Yeah.".
Comment: Bart may not know about erection or about the
relationship between erection and ejaculation. It seems clear from his
'description and demonstration prior to subsequent suggestive questioning,
that he was claiming the penis was flaccid. It also appeared the interviewer
was attempting to get him to alter his report, which it seems he did to some
degree, but his final demonstration was not supportive of his changed report,
suggesting his knowledge of erection is not sound.
4.3 Allegation of sodomy:
4.3.1 Bart alleged "No. Peter put his penis up my bum."(p15). Asked how it felt, Bart said, "It felt ticklish.", later (p16) amended to make it feel bad and him ,sad, "Bad and sad and ticklish." (p16). The alleged event occurred in the bathroom with Bart standing near the bath (p16), his pants were pulled down (p17), as were Ellis'.
4.3.2 Small dolls were produced to represent Bart and Peter (p17) and toys were used to 'recreate' the Ellis bathroom (Note: The question again arises that without an actual layout to compare with, how could one ascertain the validity of any arrangement of toys. At age 6 years a child has enough general experience of bathrooms to be able to create a generalised layout, or even to simply replicate that at home. The trier of fact may assume the arrangement adds to reliability of the evidence, as the child seems to be recreating an actual environment. Such arrangements re demonstrations are rarely checked or challenged.)
4.3.3 Bart (p18) described himself as bending over [it is not easy to see his demonstration with small dolls]. He was asked a suggestive question, "Was he standing up or kneeling or sitting?", Bart responded, "Um he was ss..kneeling. Standing up." (Note: Uncertainty in selecting an option. How could he know if facing away from Ellis?). The interviewer followed with another suggestive question, "......Was his body staying still or was it moving?", the response, "It stayed still.". Asked where Ellis' hands were, Bart said, "He was holding his penis in there.". Another suggestive question followed, "Oh, Ok. So did it go on your bum or in your bum?", "In my bum.". Another suggestive question was asked (p18), ".....And did he do anything to your bum before that or not?". Bart said that Ellis swore at him (p19). Afterward they returned to the creche.
Comment: This allegation is serious, but the interviewer
fails to establish the context of the event, particularly the emotional
experience or after effects of being sodomised as a four-year-old. The
questioning for detail frequently involved suggestive questioning which
prevents the expression of the child's own understanding and experience of
what he alleged. Bart shows himself to be somewhat ignorant of erection and
the description of body relativity does not match what would seem to be
required for an adult to sodomise a four-year-old, Ellis allegedly has a
flaccid penis, and does not move during the event. Further, there is no
mention of pain (ticklish is the term used by Bart) that one might reasonably
expect on insertion, and there is no evidence of any emotional reaction in
describing what one might anticipate was a frightening and painful event.
4.4 Others involved:
4.4.1 Much direct and specific questioning (pp20-21) produced statements that the children were driven to Ellis' place in a 'grey white' car with an old man in the car to make sure the children did not escape. There were 2-3 adults at the house waiting, all men. Asked if "Any women ever there or not?", Bart replied, "Not that I know."
4.4.2 Bart alleged other children were involved, but when questioned about this said, "I don't know cos I wasn't with the other children." and that "Cos they went into separate rooms." Asked which children, he identified one, "Think it might have been Paul." [Note: Writer disagrees with transcript which has "They put my friend Paul."(p21).
Asked suggestively (pp21-22) whether
other boys were present, Bart indicated not that he knew of. His answer
concerning girls is confusing "No I can't, I can't remember all of
4.5 Other sexual activity with Ellis:
Bart was asked a direct question,
"Did Peter's penis go anywhere else on your body or not?" He answered,
4.6 Sexual Knowledge:
The interviewer led into the topic
of semen (p23), "And when he did, when you had to hold his
penis.."; "..white stuff came out.". Bart adds detail,
"White sticky stuff"; "Ah um things when you have sex."
The interviewer asked, "Hmm. How do you know about that?". Bart
responded, "Um I just do cos mum and dad have it."; "..so
that's what, and that's what makes the babies.". (Note: This knowledge may have come from parents, peers, or older
brothers. Regardless, it may mean that Bart was not naive and could have
applied the knowledge to his allegations, as it may explain his awareness of
ejaculation despite his apparent ignorance of the essential relationship
between it and erection).
4.7 Allegations of sexual abuse by others:
4.7.1 The interviewer asked a direct, suggestive question, "Yeah. So has anyone else ever got you to hold their penis before, till the sticky stuff came out? No?" Bart answered, "No, only Peter."(p23). In response to the interviewer's, "Only Peter?", Bart said, "One of his friends might have."(p23) (Note: This is a very vague and uncertain allegation). Asked which friend, Bart responds more vaguely, "Oh, well it's one that I can't remember his name or what he looks like. They all had dark blacky-brownyish hair.". The interviewer appears unimpressed, asking "Did they. And he might have. So did, did he get, did one of Peter's friends make you hold his penis or not?" (p23). Bart answered, "No."(p24). Apparently not accepting this negative response, the interviewer added suggestively, "But you think he might have, is that right?". Bart replied speculatively, "He might have done it to other children".
Comment: This interchange suggests a willingness on Bart's part to create flimsily supported allegations. He appeared to back down when pressed, but inferred that others may have had to do this, possibly on the basis of rumour he has heard or the general knowledge of allegations that others may have been involved. The allegations were made in a matter-of-fact way, with no evident emotion.
4.7.2 Asked (p24), "And has anyone else ever done that to your bum with their penis before?", Bart answered, "Nno.".
4.7.3 The interviewer asked (p26), "Right. And tell me some more things about Peter's house, what else happened there?". Bart replied, "Oh, nothing much. Not any more. Mainly those things.".
4.7.4 A suggestive question followed. " Did any of those other men do bad things like Peter did or not?"(p26). Bart replied, "They done the same things." "Who to?"; "Other children.". A further suggestive question followed, "Hmm Hmm. Did they do, did any of them do the same things to you or not?". Bart replied in the affirmative. "Which one?". "I think it was Robert." (Note: Another uncertain response). Bart now proceeds to allege that Robert hurt him 'the same way as Peter', offering no detail. Asked to explain, he chose to point to a doll, indicating, but not naming the genital and bottom areas (p26). The interviewer now asks suggestive and direct questions (p27), in response to which Bart alleges Robert smacked his bum and wobbled his penis "heaps of times". (Note: This replicates the initial allegation made against Ellis in 92/263. In that interview Bart was asked specifically on two occasions, p29, p31, if anyone else had wobbled his rude bits, on both occasions he answered "No."). Asked, "Anything else? Did any other part of Robert hurt your bum?"(p27). Bart says, in a somewhat off-hand manner, "His penis...", then asks about a toy! (Note: Shortly before in the present interview (p24) Bart had responded in the negative to a specific question about whether anyone else [other than Ellis] had done that to his burn before). Robert is described as a young person [like his stepfather], except he has a few whiskers and is balding. The interviewer asked about hair colour and then proceeded to supply her own answer, "Darkish blacky hair."
Comment: These allegations were made in the context of suggestive questioning. They were very vague and the detail was absent. It is of note that when previously asked if anything like this had happened (92/263, present interview), Bart had denied that it had. The suggestibility, lack of consistency, the vagueness of the allegations, and the very off-hand manner in which they were made raises genuine concerns of their validity.
4.7.5 In response to questions about detail, Bart alleges these events happened in the bedroom of a two-storeyed house belonging to one of Peter's friends (p28), that Peter did not live there, but, in response to very suggestive questioning, now agreed that this was the same house in which Peter had 'hurt his bum in the bathroom'. (Note: Earlier (p16) Bart had said, in response to a question, that the event occurred in "His [Peter's] house.") Bart alleged that the sodomy happened "Lots.", but displayed no evident distress in recalling this.
Comment: There is a clear lack of consistency in Bart's statements in respect of these types of incidents both within and between interviews. This suggests that he does not effectively remember what he previously has said and may not be tracking his statements.
4.7.6 Asked for detail about his clothes (p28-29) Bart said "...I still had my pants on all the time. Yeah, the only time I got all my clothes off was in the bath." (Note: This statement makes sodomy difficult, if not impossible.). A confused exchange about clothing followed (p29) and Bart was asked how, when sodomised by Robert had his penis 'hurt' him. "Oh well, it just hurt it, it didn't really hurt it, it hurt me inside.". No explanation of this confusing statement was sought. Specific suggestive questioning resulted in Bart claiming that neither Robert's nor Peter's penis had gone in 'the pooh hole', but in the 'crack' of his bottom. (Note 1: In his previous allegation, against Ellis, Bart had said "up my bum" (p15) and "In my bum." (p18), even though he was offered the options 'on' and 'in' by the interviewer at that time. Note 2: This change to 'crack' raises a question about what 'hurt me inside' meant). Twice asked a suggestive question (p30), "Was Mon the bed or on the floor?"; "...did it happen on the bed or on the floor?". Bart said the floor.
Comment: Inconsistencies of a serious nature again are evident. Whether they are a result of suggestive questioning or faulty memory for previous statements is not so much an issue as the fact that they are present in serious allegations.
4.7.7 A further suggestive question was asked (p30), "And how did, and did any other, has anyone else that's...Has anyone else done that to your bum, put their penis on your bum before or not?". Bart answered, "No.". (Note: Bart already had once said this (p24) and then changed his testimony). The interviewer said, "So that's Robert and Peter.", and Bart now changed his testimony again, adding, "And um three other guys, [laughs] and one of them was old.". (Note: The laughter seems inappropriate in the context of this). Suggestively the interviewer asked, "Three other guys put their penis on your bum?", Bart replied, "Yeah, and one of those three guys were old."(p30).
Comment: Further allegations are generated, again limited
in detail, and inconsistency is evident, as is response to suggestive
questioning. The alleged events are reported without any emotional reaction,
beyond a laugh when describing the involvement of the 'three guys', which
seems an entirely inappropriate response. The writer would not deem it to
have been a nervous laugh.
4.8.1 Asked where Peter was while Robert was in the bedroom sodomising him, Bart said (p31) he was watching and that he was taking photos. (Note: When asked earlier (p28) where Peter was, Bart had said, "He was doing other children." and did not mention photography).
4.8.2 Bart went on to claim that Peter had taken photographs of himself ejaculating when Bart had masturbated him in the toilets, when swearing at Bart, and smacking his bum (p31). Asked whether anyone else had taken photos of him or not, Bart said "No.". Asked (p33) whether Peter said anything to him about the photos or not, Bart said, "Did he say...He said those photos are fun. Shall I take some more?".
Comment: These claims seem somewhat unlikely.
Incriminating evidence would result. A flash probably would be necessary in
the creche toilets, and would very likely attract attention.
4.9 Examples of suggestion and suggestibility:
Question (p33), "So who was,
did any other kids, which kids, Oh, oh, you told me. Um, Paul went there [to
Peter's friend's house] didn't he. Which kid went the most?".
Question (p33), "And what was
Peter doing to you when they were laughing?",
4.10 Allegation of fellatio
4.10.1 This allegation arose out of the following exchange: Question (p35), "Hey, um you know how his penis went in your bum like that..?; "..where else could a penis go?", Answer, "He put it in my mouth as well."
Comment: This is an example of the possible consequence of suggestive questioning. The allegation can not be said to have been freely volunteered.
4.10.2 Further questioning led to statements (pp35-36) that this had happened twice in the bedroom of the house, that it tasted like wees (Note: How would Bart know what wees tasted like?), that (p36) Ellis took shoes, pants, and knickers off and that he made Bart pull his pants down [no reason for this sought], and Ellis was holding his penis in Bart's mouth. Bart said he pushed it [the penis] away the second time and that as a result Ellis did not do it again. Asked if wees had gone in his mouth, Bart said 'white sticky stuff' had. He later claimed (p41) that he had swallowed the semen and later vomitted it up 'one day'.
Comment: This series of revelations was made without any
indication of any aversion or emotion that might be anticipated on the
disclosure of unpleasant and traumatic experiences. Ejaculate would not taste
like 'wees', being forced to take in a penis and swallow it would likely be
distressing and disturbing no hint of this being the case at the time or
during disclosure was evident.
4.11 Other children:
Bart named (p38) Paul, Kari, Allan.
4.12 Disclosure to parents:
4.12.1 The interviewer asked (p40), "When they touched your bum with their penis, who knows about that? Does mum and dad know about those other men or not?". Bart replied, "Yep. I told them all about it last night and that's why they wanted me to have another interview."
This interview contained a number of serious allegations including sodomy by a number of adults, fellatio of adults, and masturbation of adults by Bart. Some of these allegations were volunteered, but a number of them, and much of what detail was provided arose from suggestive and/or direct questioning. There were many significant discrepancies and contradictions, sometimes within the interview, but also between this and the preceding one. Bart showed himself to be responsive to suggestive questions and as willing to speculate in response to questions, which is one of the problems inherent in the use of such questions with young children. He also appeared willing to introduce detail of questionable provenance, such as that relating to photography.
Bart has a degree of knowledge about sexual functions, such as ejaculation, which appears to have come from home. The apparent lack of knowledge about the relationship between ejaculation and erection raises questions about the alleged abuse. There also are issues in terms of his evidence relating to alleged sodomy, given that he changes it from penetration to between the cheeks, claimed he did not remove his pants at all, and described a position that would make any contact between penis and anal region very difficult, if not impossible.
The alleged events, any one of which would have greatly distressed a young child, are described very matter-of-factly, including multiple sodomy and fellatio to ejaculation. The terms used to describe the emotional reactions at the time of the events (e.g., sad) do not match what one might expect. Further, the dispassionate recounting seems somewhat out of place in the context of the allegations.
Tne issue of parental questioning arises also, with Bart stating that his parents had talked with him the night before and had asked for the interview. This makes possible the rehearsal of Bart's allegations, so that those presented in interview may appear spontaneous, but actually have been gone over previously. The patterns of parental, and possibly fraternal,. attention and support given in making allegations in the family context need to be understood, as they may also be a factor in the content and range of alleged abuse reported by Bart.
6.1 The Library with the trapdoor and QEII Pool:
6.1.1 Bart alleged (Transcript p5) that Peter Ellis took him to a three-storeyed (p6) library building the library books included some about child abuse (p6), and the building had a trapdoor. Other children present included Paul, Allan and Lad [Also in 92/471] and Leon (p7). Peter allegedly told Bart that another named child, Zelda and some other children allegedly were taken to Peter's mother's home 'on the hills' (pp7-8).
6.1.2 Bart had been drawing a building (pp4-8) which was expected by the interviewer to represent the 'library', and Bart had described detail of the 'library as he drew. He disclosed (p8) that the drawing was not the library, but a 'normal' building. (Note: This raises cautions about reliance on children's drawings or arrangements of toys to represent evidentially valid information.).
6.1.3 Bart identified (p8-9) two adult males present named 'Spike', and 'Boulderhead'. (Note: These were among names used by Eli Laurel, Interview 92/629. This may have been after contact with Bart Dogwood).
Peter allegedly (pp9-10) took Bart
and the other children named in 6.1.1 above to
Comment: The interviewer did not explore the context of this allegation at all, perhaps because she deemed it not relevant and/or because she did not believe it. One would have expected this to be a traumatising experience had it occurred, and one noticed by pool lifeguards and reported. '!'he presence of five distressed and abandoned four-year-olds could hardly have been missed. The making of this type of allegation by Bart points to the possibility that he is capable of inventing events, and must therefore cast some doubt upon the rest of his testimony. No evidence of distress or concern was evident during the telling of this event.
6.1.4 Next (pp9-12), is described the 'trapdoor', in which the children were left "Just standing around."(p9) "... leaning against the wall."(p10), apparently in the dark, with a four-storey fall to the basement, which housed a maze (p11 ). Bart said, "I just stayed there and then he came back and then he took us out. None of us did the maze."..."Wc just stood around waiting."(p12). After coming out, "Oh that's when he, when we went too the QEII pool [These words are just audible, but not transcribed]. Now you tell your mum I'll throw you in the, 1'11 tie your arms and tie your legs up and throw you in and you won't be able to get out and make you people [not transcribed] drown and you'll die.".
Comment: The casual behaviour of young children locked in a trapdoor with a long fall to a basement is not easy to accept. One might have anticipated considerable distress, if not terror.
6.1.5 At the library building there were 20 of Peter's friends, Spike and Boulderhead (p13). Asked what sort of clothes Peter's friends wear (p13), Bart described them as all in black, "They were wearing black pull down with the with the white tie and black shoes.". In response to a suggestive question "Mmm Hmm, Anything on their heads or not?"(p13), Bart said, "Oh, black hats." (p14). (Note: Dress appears to conform to a cartoon gangster stereotype).
6.1.6 Bart then said (p14) that one of these men had written "fuckin' shit" on the side of the car with a putty knife. The car was a Toyota Corona (pp14-15), a fact Bart ascertained by reading it. (Note: He was four years old and could read these words).
6.1.7 In response to direct questioning two black women were said to be present (p15), dressed all in white with a black tie (Note: This is the exact opposite of the previous description, see 6.1.5 above). Asked what the women did, Bart speculated "bad probably: (p15), adding not to him.
6.1.8 Asked what the people were doing (p16), Bart asserted they were 'hurting kids' and then when ask in what way, speculated, "I don't know. They were hurting kids, except I don't know what they did because I wasn't around."
Comment: This response again raises the issue of Bart's
willingness to speculate. The problem with the direct questioning is the
demand it creates for a response, which the child may do by speculating. The
speculations may then form a platform for subsequent allegations because of
the demand characteristics of the interview process (e.g., The interviewer
wants me to tell about other children), then generates allegations which are
viewed as having some evidential value
6.2 Allegations of anal penetration with sharp sticks:
6.2.1 Direct questioning (p17) about what Peter did to hurt him at the 'trapdoor building' produced allegations that he kicked and punched him and that a 'sharp stick' was stuck up his 'bum' five times, which made it bleed on the floor, and that burning paper was also stuck up his bum five times by a friend of Peter's , thus his 'bum bled 10 times' , (p17). Peter and his mother took photographs (p18) and were laughing. This made Bart feel 'sad' (p18).
6.2.2 The sharp sticks were stored in a wooden treasure box, "round like a pirate's one (p20), and it contained 20 pieces of paper, a lighter and five sharp sticks. It was locked (p18) and kept in a secret cupboard (p19) under the care of Boulderhead. Bart noted (p20) that he had seen a pirate's treasure box on T V and had got toys with pirate boxes. (Not This suggests external sources of ideas used in this allegation).
6.2.3 Bart described having his pants pulled down (p19), bleeding 'hard'(p20) and his bottom feeling sore, and that "..when I got back to creche it felt [Transcriber heard Igot'l better."(p20). When the sticks were inserted "Mmm, yeah I was standing up and bending over.". Afterwards, 'they just took us back to creche' (p22).
Comment: Bart alleged that on five occasions sharp sticks were inserted in to his rectum and that on a similar number of occasions paper was inserted into his anus and lit. The result was bleeding and it felt 'sore', but this reportedly dissipated on return to creche. The physical and psychological consequences of this trauma would be expected to be considerable, unlikely to dissipate rapidly, and to have been very evident to creche workers and probably to his mother at the time if they had occurred as alleged. Presumably, there would have been blood on his underclothes and possible burns on his skin, with considerable physical damage to anus and rectum to be expected. The question is whether any evidence of this allegation was noted by adults or checked medically at any time?
These traumatic experiences were not described as being traumatic at the time (words like sad and sore were used) and there was no sign of distress or trauma during the recounting of them. This must raise further questions as to the validity of the allegations.
While some suggestive,
and direct questioning was used in this part of the interview, it has to be
noted that Bart also volunteered much of the detail. He appeared to draw on
TV and toys for some of it, and the question arises as to where imagination
and creativity enter into the descriptions of alleged events.
6.3 Allegation of sodomy by Boulderhead and others:
6.3.1 In response to repeated suggestive questioning (p22), Bart alleged that Boulderhead and "Peter and all his other 19 friends, and that means it happened about 40 times.". Asked who did it the most, Bart alleged "Spike."; "Yep. He always, yes, he always does it in the pooh hole."(p22). The sodomy made his 'hole' feel 'bad' and 'ticklish' on his back (p24). He used the term sore only when led by the interviewer (p25). (Note: Bart has been inconsistent in his allegations about sodomy, in 92/ 471 two days prior to the present interview, he variously had said only Peter ever had done this, added Robert, and then three other men. He never mentioned the present allegations at that time). Bart denied knowing if other children had had 'bad things' done to them, but speculated that they probably did (p23).
Comment: Had this occurred, one might reasonably expect both emotional and physical sequelae from repeated sodomisation. There is no evidence of the former in the experiencing (he used terms like 'bad' and 'ticklish' to describe how his anus and back felt during sodomy, and only used sore at the suggestion of the interviewer) or reporting of the alleged events, which was done in an almost conversational manner. Medical examination would be necessary to establish evidence of physical damage. Of concern is Bart's inconsistent testimony concerning alleged sodomy. Given the opporhmity on several occasions in the preceding interview, he had not mentioned this more serious and extensive abuse.
In the writer's opinion, Bart's descriptions are not very consistent with the expected experience of repeated sodomy by a four-year-old.
appeared to be the stimulus for this allegation and for some of the detail,
Bart responded with elaborate allegations.
6.4 Allegations of being drugged:
6.4.1 Bart alleged (p25-27, 29-34) produced an elaborate set of allegations that he and others were drugged by Peter Ellis and his mother. Often the elaborations followed suggestive and direct questioning. The drugs included pills, injections, and a 'poisonous' drink which induced sleepiness. Other children involved had been named as participating in other alleged abuse, Paul, Allan, Kari, had needles put in their hand. The alleged events occurred in a hospital/restaurant and at Peter's friend's house.
Comment: These allegations further evidence the effect of
suggestive questioning on Bart's reports, but he also is willing to volunteer
detail. Children returning to creche after such experiences might well be
expected to display the effects of soporific drugs and to raise questions
over their health that might well be communicated to parents. Knowledge of
needles and pills is something children obtain from their experience of
medical interventions. The notion of poisons and potions is common in
children's literature and TV stories, so this easily can be drawn on to
produce apparently cogent information that fits allegations of this sort.
6.5 Allegations of indecent acts involving women and children:
6.5.1 Without any evident contextual prompt, the interviewer produced a doll with genitalia (p34) and asked suggestively if it was a boy or a girl. Bart responded a 'girl' and was asked what made it so. He pointed to the genitalia and was asked what that was called. After a display of reluctance, he eventually identified it as 'vagina' (p34).
6.5.2 Bart was then asked suggestively (p35), "So whose vaginas have you seen before?". He said his mother's when she had ben getting changed. The interviewer continued suggestively, "When she's getting changed, yeah. Have you seen any other big women's vaginas before?". Bart now identified two women present, presumably during other alleged events. Asked what they were doing with their vaginas, he said, "Oh. They just pulled their pants down to show us for some stupid reason.". Further suggestive questioning followed, "...What did they do after they had showed you? What did they show they could do with their vagina?", he responded, "Clever tricks.". Asked what these were, he said he could not remember. Asked to demonstrate on the doll, he changed his report to, "They, they, Oh it wasn't really clever tricks. They smack it and they punch it." and "They could kick it. They could kick it like that, it was quite amazing..."(p35).
6.5.3 Specific questions followed (p36), possibly intended to get him to identify pubic hair, as they focussed on the difference between girls' and women's vaginas. Bart did not discriminate, claiming lack of knowledge.
6.5.4 Further direct and suggestive questioning (p37) resulted in allegations of the women punching and kicking children's bottoms.
6.5.5 Asked about cameras (pp38-39) Bart described one on a tripod. He said (p40), in response to a direct question, that a video camera had not been used.
In response to direct, suggestive
questioning, Bart alleged Peter had made him kick
Comment: Many of these allegations were made in the context of direct and suggestive questioning by the interviewer. Bart evidenced a propensity to follow suggestion, and to speculate, he also changed his testimony when challenged (e.g., over the 'clever tricks' with vaginas).
In this interview, Bart's allegations became more extensive in terms of the amount and type of alleged abuse, particularly that relating to sodomy and anal penetration with sticks and burning paper. The numbers of participants increased, and their dress specified as a sort of uniform, with stereotypic criminal overtones. Much of this elaboration and detail followed use by the interviewer of direct and/or suggestive questions, to which Bart appeared particularly sensitive and responsive. He also seemed prepared to speculate and to add his own detail, some of it clearly influenced by exposure to toys and TV programmes.
In describing extensive and multiple instances of potentially very traumatic sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, Bart was essentially at ease, most offhand and casual in his verbal and behavioural style. The reported emotion at the time of many of the most unpleasant events was not indicative of the great fear, pain, or distress that one might have expected a four-year-old to experience under such circumstances. Further, one would have expected physical evidence of repeated anal penetration by sharp sticks and sodomy, and of burns from the lighted paper. Given that he claimed bleeding had occurred, it is surprising that his mother did not notice blood on his underclothes, or receive from him complaints of being sore at the times these events occurred.
Bart had told his parents about some of these alleged events the night before this interview. Accordingly, the issue of possible contamination or rehearsal from that process cannot be put aside.
8.1 Allegations of abuse involving adults and children:
8.1.1 Bart reported (Transcript p5) that in a house located in Hereford St. (Note: His mother had stopped outside this house on 04.08.92 and Bart had identified it), in a room with a circle drawn on the floor, a number of creche staff (Marie, Gaye, Andrew, Peter Ellis) and Robert were present, wearing tins around their necks and dancing around Bart and other children, who were in the middle of the circle. Asked to draw the circle (p6), Bart hums and sighs while doing so.
Bart identified some on the drawing
as around the circle playing guitars, these included Peter's friends and
family (p6), and the 'nine' children in the middle had to kick each other.
Peter and the adults went into the middle of the circle and started hurting
the children (p6), who included
8.1.3 The interviewer asked where Marie, Gaye, and Jan were (p7). (Note: Jan was specifically excluded by Bart from those present (p5), but her name has been suggested among those allegedly present by the interviewer on a number of occasions and he now does not dispute her presence when it is suggested in the question). Bart indicated (p8) they were dancing around the circle. Asked about clothes, he said both they and the people playing guitars had 'normal' clothes on, but that the children were naked.
8.1.4 Bart added (p8) that Marie, Gaye and Jan (Note: Jan now included, following suggestion in 8.1.3 above) 'pretended to sex' and that there was a photo taken of this. Asked to demonstrate on two dolls, Bart was not keen (pp8-9) but eventually does so, swinging the dolls around face to face as i f dancing. (Note: Much later in the interview (p48) this was revisited. Bart then said their clothes were off and, in response to a suggestive question on body position, selected lying down, adding "..on top of each other." and "staying still" (This latter was not transcribed).
8.1.5 Asked "Did they have their clothes on or off?"(p9), Bart responded "Off." (Note 1: He previously had said their clothes were on (p8, see 813 above). Asked the same question again (p10), Bart chose, "On." Note 2: Asked again later (p48) Bart selected "Off".)
Comment: This changeability demonstrates the problem of suggestive questioning of suggestible children, and how such questioning contributes to inconsistent testimony.
Asked (p10) a suggestive question,
"Which, whereabouts in Peter's house did this happen?", Bart
replied "In, in the dining room." (Note: At no time had Bart identified the
8.1.7 Asked (p11) what tune the people with guitars were playing Bart said he could not remember. He reported that they did magic with knives and pretended they were cowboys, being dressed in white suits (p11) (Note: Earlier (p8) Bart had described the guitar players' clothes as 'normal).
8.1.8 Pressed by the interviewer to recall the tune (p12) and to think of any similar kid's tunes, Bart proposed "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" (p12). Challenged, he amended his degree of certainty on the tune. (Note: This was later revisited (p50), and Bart nominated "Ring a ring a rosie, a pocket full of posies, as the tune he thought it sounded like. It is of interest that this game had been suggested by the interviewer much earlier (p5)!)
8.1.9 Direct and suggestive questions (pp13-15) led to reports of children kicking and punching each other in the balls and the vagina, the knee caps, and legs. They had done so under threat of being stabbed with a knife (p13). Bart claimed he got 'about five' kicks in the balls (p15).
8.1.10 Bart later suggested that some of the people involved had oriental appearing eyes (p16), and that some had brown skin(p17).
8.1.11 Later (p30) returning to the guitar players, Bart was again asked how they were dressed. He now said (p31), "They were just normal clothes." The interviewer resorted to a suggestive question, "Were they normal clothes or black clothes or white clothes or..?". Bart replied, "They were just normal black clothes." (p31). (Note: Earlier (pp11-12) he had said they were all white).
Asked now a suggestive question of what about the people in white clothes, Bart replied that they were dancing in the circle. Asked directly about the creche women, Bart said they had all white, they had changed (Note: Previously (p8), Bart had described them as wearing 'normal' clothes).
Comment: These allegations incorporate a wider circle of creche staff, they involve a wider group of musicians, and allege encouragement of kicking and punching of children by adults and children by children, they also include indecent acts by adult females. As in previous allegations, much of the detail of events and participants comes from direct and/or suggestive questioning. Bart again demonstrates a susceptibility to suggestion, to the extent that he engaged in frequent changes of evidence in respect of the creche women's state of dress/undress. He also evidenced spontaneous elaboration of detail and self-contradiction (e.g., in respect of the guitar players' dress, as in 8.1.11 above).
No emotional distress was evident in his reporting of these events, indeed he was humming and singing from time to, time while being questioned.
The role of his mother
in helping him identify properties associated with his allegations is of concern,
since it raises again the effect of external contamination. The fact that a
child can identify a precise place where events are alleged to have occurred
may, if the facts are not thoroughly verified, lend a degree of credibility
to allegations that might otherwise be viewed with some caution.
8.2 Allegation of needles up the penis:
8.2.1 While describing (p19) alleged kicking and punching of children by each other in the circle (see 8.1 above), Bart was asked, "Penis?. How did your penis get hurt?". Bart replied (after a long pause), "Um, they put needles up them.". Bart identified a creche worker Andrew as the culprit. This act made Bart's penis feel sore and caused blood to come out (described in a matter-of-fact voice). A series of direct and/or suggestive questions (pp19-25) produced reports of the people with the guitars cleaning up the blood of the floor, that the needles were sewing needles and were sharp (p20), that the children were then (p21) taken back to creche via the building with the trapdoor [the library? see 92/4741, where the children were left for half an hour and all fell down the trapdoor again [presumably falling four floors to the basement with the maze, see 92/ 474].
8.2.2 The needles allegedly were inserted into the urethra (p21), it was pushed in and the blood came out. It got better when the children returned to creche (p22). In response to further direct and / or suggestive questions (p23} Bart alleged he was standing and could not escape because he was scared and was being held by Andrew (p23).
8.2.3 Asked what the creche women were doing (p23-24) Bart added that they were hurting boys' penises and girls' vaginas. In response to direct questions (p24) he alleged that Gaye had hurt all of the children, later (p25) specifying Kari and Allan, saying he had seen this, and that Marie had hurt Kari (p24). (Note: Kari was not included in the original list of children named (p7) as present.
Comment: Bart's demeanour during this allegation was one of matter-of-fact almost blase unconcern. His voice and behaviour evidenced no emotion, and at times he played distractedly. The allegations were made in the context of many direct and suggestive questions, and the allegation about use of needles seemed to arise from direct questioning about what had been done to his penis.
The psychological and
physical consequences of having needles inserted into the urethra with the
force of being 'pushed' as Bart described it could be expected to be
considerable. He also described bleeding, suggesting physical damage. That no
blood was reported as found on any child's underwear or that no complaint of
pain, especially during micturition was noted at the time seems extraordinary
given the alleged events. One would anticipate descriptions of pain, terror, and
vigorous attempts to resist or escape, but these are not particularly
evident, beyond being held, feeling scared, and it feeling sore, although it
was better by the time he was returned to the creche.
8.3 Allegation of being put in an oven:
8.3.1 After the "ring" experience, the children were allegedly put in an oven (p15). The adults allegedly had threatened, "Then they said if you tell your mum we'll put you in the oven and we'll kill you." (p16)
8.3.2 Asked later (p34) for detail, Bart stated that the children had their feet tied up and they were tied up in a ball, and they were put into this old oven that was switched on. He indicated that there was smoke in the oven, Then it was turned off, the children were 'grabbed' out, put on a plate and pretended to he eaten. He noted that they were not burnt because the oven was turned off before this could occur, however it had (p35) felt hot. While in the oven he had felt sad that he was going to get burnt. Peter had pretended to eat him.
Comment: This allegation, about an event that surely would have been terrifying for a young child, was described without emotion. None of the terror or distress that one would expect to accompany this sort of experience was described as occurring. This allegation was not made in the context of suggestive or direct questioning, so it is attributable to Bart's own volition. That children put into an oven hot enough to be smoking could not be burnt tests the limits of aspects of physics, and suggests that it is the stuff of children's fiction, such as 'The Gingerbread House', in which children are put in an oven by a witch and rescued from it. Further, that the house had an oven large enough to hold one or more children would seem, at best, unusual.
If one is prepared to
put this allegation to one side because it tests the limits of belief, the
question arises, why not others made by this child? This allegation and its
detail did not arise in the context of direct or suggestive questioning so
suggestion cannot be identified as a cause of fantasy or elaboration, whereas
in many of his other allegations that and other potential sources of
contamination cannot so easily be put to one side.
8.4 Revisiting the allegations made in 92/471:
8.4.1 The house with the 'trapdoor' is reintroduced by the interviewer (p36). Bart indicated that no one other than Peter went onto the top floor, and that was where the children were put in the trapdoor and fell down. Prompted about rooms, Bart said they had bookshelves. The interviewer said "Right. Yesterday you told me that Peter showed you a book?" (Note: Actually, Bart had said (92/474, pp6-7) that Peter had read from a book). "And that it had pictures in it?" (Note: Bart made no mention of pictures in the book in 92/474). "What did the pictures show?". Bart replied, "Um that was about hurting kids.", "How were they doing that?","Put um penises in my mouth, that's what they did anyway." (p36). (Note: Bart is now describing the content of pictures that the interviewer has suggested he has seen).
8.4.2 A suggestive question followed (p36), "Hmm hmm. So, so that's what you saw in the book. And who put penises in your mouth?". Bart replied, "Peter." A further suggestive question followed, "Anyone else's penis ever go in your mouth or not?". Bart replied, "No." (Note: This is consistent with reports thus far)
8.4.3 Asked whereabouts in the house (p36), Bart said on the top floor (Note In 92/471,p35, he said the bedroom in a friend of Peter's house).
8.4.4 Asked about Peter's clothes (p36), Bart said he took them right off (Note: In 92/ 471, p36, he said he took his shoes, pants and knickers off).
8.4.5 Asked about his own clothes (p36) Bart said he was made to take all his off (Note: In 92/471, p36, he said he was made to just pull his pants down).
8.4.6 Asked how he got to that place (pp37-38), Bart said he went in the black car with Tuckin' shit scratched on it, driven by Spike. (Note In 92/471, pp19-20, Bart said the car was grey-white in colour and that Peter drive it).
Comment: The interview 92/471 was conducted on 04.08.92,
the present interview on 06.08.92. The above retelling identifies a number of
significant differences and inconsistencies in Bart's detail of place and
action. If his memory for alleged events is not stable over two days, the
question has to be asked about the likely stability over two years since the
alleged events occurred.
8.5 Revisiting allegations of physical and sexual activity between children:
8.5.1 Over the remainder of the interview (between Transcript pp40-50), the interviewer revisited earlier allegations. This section of the interview is characterised by suggestive and direct questioning with the occasional use of social influence and of dolls, to prompt reporting of alleged events. In the context of this questioning Bart added new detail and new allegations. Examples follow.
8.5.2 A female doll with external genitals (vulva) was produced (pp40-41), with the instruction "Show me where the girls got kicked and punched." Bart identified (p41) genitals for kicking and bottom for punching. He was asked directly if anything else happened to the vaginas, and he said not. The question then was asked about the boys' penises. These too were kicked and punched, plus sharp sticks and burning paper in the bottom. In response to a direct question the latter was indicated as occurring 'somewhere else' (p42).
8.5.3 A (repeated) suggestive question (p42) asked Bart to say whether or not any other part of the children had touched the boys' penises or not. He said "No."
8.5.4 A Social influence then was applied (p42), "Cos I heard the kids had, were made to do something else to each other, is that right? Is that a hard thing to say or an easy thing to say?, Bart replied, "Hard.". (Note: Bart has not had any particular difficulty prior to this in making allegations of very disturbing events. This question, whether something is hard or easy to ,talk about is a potentially pejorative one, in that if the child answers "hard" it suggests trauma, but the preceding question may have been either hard to understand or hard to answer because of its complexity).
8.5.5 Further suggestive pressure was then applied (p42), "...What else did the kids have to do to the penises?". Bart gives a confused response, "Put, um, put burning [the transcriber heard 'them in'] pieces of paper and sticks up their bum and things.".
8.5.6 Not yet satisfied the interviewer suggests further (p42), "Hmm, hmm, and what else? What other part of the kids had to touch the penises?". Bart simply repeated the question, so was asked to demonstrate again the kicking and punching on the doll. Bart demonstrated as before (p43)
8.5.7 The suggestive question was repeated (p43), "That, yes. What else did the kids have to do with the penises?" Bart again simply repeated the question. and then said "Nothing..just putting needles up.." (in a matter-of-fact voice), adding "But the kids didn't.".
The interviewer increased the
suggestive aspect of her question, "Ok, so you know how um, Peter's
penis went in your mouth? You know how Peter put his penis in your
mouth?".."Have you ever seen that happen to kids before, between
kids before or not?" Bart responded, "Yes.", asked who he had
seen it happen between, he replied "Um,
8.5.9 Further detail was elicited using suggestive questions, "Did someone do it to Paul or did Paul do it to someone?", "Paul did it to someone.", "Who did he do it to?" (p43), "Um, Allan." (p44). (Note: Allan was not mentioned as present just before, see 8.5.8 above). "So what made them do that, what made Paul do that to Allan?", "Peter said.", "Who was there", "Um, all their um, Peter, and his two friends, um his mother um and (pause) ah Gaye."
Further suggestive and direct
questions were used (pp44-45) to elicit detail of who did what to whom, Allan
to Paul, none to Bart. Asked, "Did the boys have to do it to the
girls?', Bart said, "No.", "What about girls to
boys?"(p45), Bart said "Kari had to do it to
8.5.11 (p4b) "Did this happen there in the circle or somewhere else when all the kids had to touch each others' penises and vaginas?" (Note: No allegations of touching vaginas had been made). Bart replied"...This happened in the circle.
8.5.12 Asked what he was doing while the children were doing things to each other, Bart replied, "Um that was when Andrew put the needle up my penis."(Note: One might have expected the needle insertion process to be likely to focus the mind of the child and inhibit the taking in of events going on around him at the time.).
Comment: The above section (8.5) illustrates the process of suggestion through direct and suggestive questioning, repeated questioning, social influence and suggestive influences, such as the production of dolls with genitals. The interviewer appears to have had a goal in mind in terms of establishing a particular allegation, namely genital contacts between children, encouraged and watched by adults, and achieves this through the suggestive process. It also illustrates the suggestibility of a young child who, although somewhat unsure of the direction of questioning, eventually fulfils the target apparently set by the interviewer.
This interview, the third the child endured in three days, was characterised by extensive use of direct and suggestive questioning, occasional use of social influence, and occasional constructive use of dolls to generate reports of events. The child evidenced suggestibility, and as a result his testimony was often generated by the content of the questions asked, which at times resulted in his giving conflicting and inconsistent reports, both of events and allegations within the interview and between this and previous interviews. He also shows himself capable of generating allegations, some of which may have been rehearsed with family and others which appear to have elements influenced by toys, TV and children's' stories.
In describing what would be, if experienced, the most distressing sexual, physical and emotional abuse, he maintains an almost uninvolved manner, with no changes in voice or demeanour from what might be considered normal, nor does he evidence any of the emotional reactions that one might associate with a traumatised or disturbed child. At times he sings, hums and plays distractedly and happily while making allegations of horrendous abuse. Further, in describing his feelings at the time, he very rarely uses feeling terms that would be consonant with the enormity of the experiences he alleges being involved in.
The evident physical and psychological damage that one would expect from the alleged abuse inflicted on this child, and others he identifies, at the time of its perpetration appear not to have been noted or attracted any attention. This would have included significant mood and behavioural changes, aversion to creche attendance and to specific staff members involved in alleged abuse, and indices of physical harm, such as blood, complaints of pain, and toiletting problems because of physical damage by needles, sticks, and burning paper. None seems to have been recorded.
Of additional concern is the issue of possible contamination from family discussion, questioning, and visits to possible abuse locations.
Finally, some of the allegations test the limits of believability (e.g, being thrown into QEII pool and left, being put in an oven, being impaled with sticks and needles and burning paper), given the interview context in which they are disclosed, the manner in which they are related, and the absence of evident harm and damage to the child or other children he implicated.
10.0 Interview 92/628 28.10.92
10.1 Allegations of anal penetration in the Creche complex:
10.1.1 Bart alleged (Transcript p5-20) that Peter Ellis, his mother, and creche staff Marie, Gaye, Jan, and Debbie (p5), and had variously involved creche children Bart, Allan, Kari, and Elsie (p5) and Bart, Kari, Zelda, Leon and Elsie (p13) in abuse within the Creche complex This involved access, via trapdoors into ceilings, a secret tunnel (lit by yellow lights) to a secret stairway in the walls, with access doors controlled by a remote control in the possession of Peter Ellis, and various secret doors, trapdoors and ladders to Room 20 of the complex, to a store cupboard in the 'Womble end' and to Gaye's office.
10.1.2 In Room 20, Bart alleged that there were large cages able to be suspended from the ceiling by hooks (p6). Children were put into the cages and hung on the hooks by Peter's mother (p6). In all there were five cages, with one child per cage (p7). (Note: It is evident from p6 that Bart's mother recently had taken him back to the creche where he had seen Room 20)
Comment: Bart has been exposed, by such a visit, to recent contamination which may well influence his memory and confound any evidential value by a) affecting source monitoring and b) giving the impression that he is remembering detail from 2 years previously when in fact it is from a recent creche visit. This raises serious issues of the validity of Bart's allegations being based on his memory from the time of the alleged events.
10.1.3 Peter's mother also allegedly (p10) put burning paper and 'chucked' sticks up the children's anuses (Note: This type of abuse was alleged, in another setting, in 92/ 474). Bart named Kari, Allan, and Elsie as victims (p10).
10.1.4 Bart alleged (p10) that children were put in cages in another room, identified as 'The room above the stinky carpet', in a hall (p11) with a piano. Children were caged here for 30 minutes, with Mrs. Ellis present, no other abuse was alleged(p12) and the children eventually were returned to the 'Womble area' via a trapdoor (p12) and a ladder (p13) into a store-room. Children identified as present were Bart, Kari, Elsie, and Zelda and Leon (Note: The latter two are different from those initially named on p5, and Paul, who was named on p5, is omitted).
10.1.5 Asked again (p14) which creche staff were involved, Bart identified Gaye, Marie, and Jan. Specifically asked about Mary and Debbie, he said at first neither was there, but changed his mind re Debbie (Whom he initially (p5) had included).
10.1.6 Entry to room 20 was gained through the wall by a secret door (pl 5).
10.1.7 Bart stated (ph 5) that the need for secret access was because if people saw children out of the creche the would report it to the creche. He added that, "Most of the creche knew.".
10.1.7 Entry to Gaye's office was via ladder, trapdoor in the roof, man-hole in the ceiling, and from Room 20 (pp16-17).
10.1.8 The trapdoor in Room 20 is in the floor (p18), and access to Gaye's office ceiling is via secret stairs in the ceiling, through a ceiling trapdoor and thence down a ladder in Gaye's office (pp18-20).
10.1.9 In the ceiling Mrs Ellis kicked and punched the children in the head and stomach(p20) and 'dick' (p21-22, shown on doll). Asked directly (p22), Bart said he had never been punched in the 'dick' before, he said "No."
10.1.10 Bart now added (p22) that Robert was present (Note: Not mentioned earlier (p14)) and was taking photographs with a 'normal' camera (p23). Under suggestive questioning (p23), Bart changed this to a video-camera, when challenged he said "Cos I knew, I could see it was one like that [the camera in the interview room]. (Note: In previous interviews Bart has used the term 'normal' camera to mean a stills camera and has referred to use of a tripod (92/ 471, pp38-39, see 6.5.5 above). He had specifically denied use of video cameras when this had been put to him, 92/471, p40, see 6.5.5 above).
Comment: This change of evidence in the face of suggestion by the interviewer points to Bart being suggestible.
10.1.11 Asked (p25) how talking about the alleged events made him feel, Bart responded, "I don't really care"(p25) and "It's alright with me.".
Comment: This statement appears accurately to reflect
Bart's behaviour and attitude,
10.2 Allegations of abuse by Paula and Stephanie:
10.2.1 Bart had alleged (pp8-9) that creche workers Stephanie and Paula had put sharp sticks and burning paper 'up our bum'(p9) at Peter Ellis' house. The interviewer subsequently returned to this allegation later in the interview (p26).
10.2.2 Bart alleged that these events occurred in the presence of Peter, Gaye Marie, Jan, and Debbie (p27), Marie was taking photos, and took five videos (p28) of the sticks and burning paper being applied. Children had their pants down. This had happened three times (p28). Bart stated that this happened in Room 20 (p29) (Note: His initial allegation (pp8-9) was that it had occurred in a different place, and nominated Peter's house, even though the topic at the time was Room 20, Bart appears to have forgotten this).
10.2.3 The interviewer asked (p29) what had happened at Peter's house (given Bart's original location of events with Paula and Stephanie). Bart appeared confused and introduced a new topic about Peter putting them down a trapdoor. He proposed it had been announced on the news that the Police recently had found this.
10.2.4 Asked (p30) what happened after the application of the sticks and the burning paper to children's bottoms, he replied, "...Oh, then they just took us back to the creche."
10.2.5 Under specific prompting from the interviewer about others' presence, Bart included Robert but excluded Andrew among those present (Note: This represents a change from 10.1.2 above)
10.2.6 Challenged (p31) by the interviewer over his memory for previous disclosures, Bart acknowledges he cannot remember them.
10.2.7 Asked (p31) how his bum felt after application of burning paper, Bart said, "It hurt my bum.". Asked what happened to his bum, he is unable to respond. A suggestive question, "What does fire do to peoples' skin?" generated what appears to be an evasive response, "Burned it, except it wasn't a big fire, it was a tiny wee one.". "They put it in quickly and then out quickly.", Bart demonstrated on a doll (p31). Suggestive questions were then asked about just where the paper was. applied (p32), Bart sought even more elaboration and the suggestive question was repeated, "Did it go on the crack or where the poohs comes out?". Bart replied, "On the crack" Challenged (p32), Bart said, " It was real fire.".
Comment: Bart has, under challenge and suggestive questioning amended the core of his allegation because previously he has always used the term 'up our bum', and associated the use of burning paper with the insertion of the sticks. The questioning here has allowed him to amend his report and to explain why there were no burns. Bart's responsiveness to the challenge indicates to the writer that he is alert to adult attention and responsive to suggestion, hence the problem when his testimony is generated using direct or suggestive questions.
10.2.8 Asked what made him stay and let the burning paper occur, Bart responded "Well, I wasn't nearly three, otherwise (not transcribed] they'd get me."
Comment: Bart now is placing these events back to a time some three to three and a half years previously. If true, it raises issues of the role of memory and cognitive development in terms of his being at all capable of attending to, storing and later recalling all of the detail of events, places, people involved and what was said.
10.2.9 Bart was asked (p32) about the cages, he was singing while this questioning occurred, as was the case when asked about Mrs Ellis. Asked to describe Peter's mother (p32), Bart said he could not remember (Note: In previous interviews he had given some descriptions, including hair colour).
Comment: Given the number of times Mrs Ellis was allegedly
involved in abuse of Bart, one might have anticipated that he could have
described her in some way. Presumably he would want to know her well enough
to be able to avoid her in future, given what he has reported that she did to
10.3 Detail of the sharp sticks:
10.3.1 Bart was prompted (p34) to think about whether he had anything more to tell. He indicated not.
10.3.2 Asked (p35) how the sticks felt in his bum, he said, "It hurt." Asked to point out on a doll where it went, he indicated the bottom and said, "Just through there like that." (Note: It appeared that he was indicating the crack in the behind, rather than into the anus. This is different from earlier demonstrations with a pen, with which he had jabbed the doll, cf 92/471, p20. Further, he had said, (92 /471, p17 "In the, in the poohs hole."). That he might have identified the area between the buttocks is implied in the interviewer's response, "....What did it do on your bum?" and later question, "Who put the stick on your bum?"(p35).
10.3.3 The action with the stick was described by Bart (p35) as, "It just went in then went out, stayed there for five seconds then went out.".
10.3.4 Asked who put the stick on his bum, Bart became uncertain, (p3b) nominating Peter's mother and Debbie as possibles, and firming on Peter and Debbie (Note: Earlier (p8, p29) he had identified Paula and Stephanie as the major perpetrators).
10.3.5 The sticks were described as sharp, allegedly sharpened by those involved, and longer and wider than a pen used by the interviewer as a basis for comparison.
10.3.6 Asked about creche teachers he was sure were involve, Bart listed those previously named and added two new names (p37), Mary and Briget. Challenged, Bart replied that he had seen them present. Asked who it was hardest to tell on, Bart nominated Robert (Note: Not a creche teacher, but allegedly Peter's friend). Asked why it was hard to talk about Robert (pp37-38), Bart said it was because he had done some really bad things (Note: If he had, his alleged 'bad things' do not come through in the narrative of any of the interviews)
Comment: This again illustrated that Bart was alert to challenge and willing to amend his testimony when pressed by the interviewer over detail. Even when non-suggestive questioning was used, Bart was inconsistent in his responding. This raises concerns about his memory for what he has already said in this and previous interviews and whether or not he is remembering actual events and / or embellishing his allegations as he goes along unaware of what, he has said previously. There is a significant difference between allegations that sticks were pushed into his anus, with sufficient damage to cause bleeding and having the stick placed between the cheeks of his bottom. Bart appears evasive and displays a readiness to amend his reports when challenged.
Unlike some of the earlier interviews of Bart, on this occasion the interviewer resorted less to prompting allegations by direct and/or suggestive questioning, or use of dolls and toys. Much of Bart's reporting is spontaneous. The concern is that it has an unreal flavour to it, both in terms of content and in terms of the manner of narrative. Bart is almost light-hearted on occasion, he plays, hums, and sings. The interviewer also challenges Bart more often and in response he tends to modify his allegations, usually reducing the level of alleged abuse.
In reporting allegations and detail, Bart frequently is inconsistent with detail reported earlier in this interview and in previous interviews relating to the same or similar events. This raises questions about the extent to which he is monitoring his allegations, the reliability of his memory, and the validity of his testimony, all of which are of concern given the seriousness and scope of his allegations.
In this interview Bart made further allegations involving elaborate structural devices in the creche complex such as secret stairs in walls and ceilings, a tunnel, remotely controlled doors, trapdoors in ceilings and floors, access by ladders, and secret doors in walls. In addition he referred to cages hung from the ceilings in two different rooms in the creche complex One would have expected these to have been discovered in the inspection of the buildings had they existed.
Bart had been taken back to the creche by his mother prior to the interview, and so had refreshed his memory on certain details, such as the location of Room 20 and, possibly, staff offices. The impact of this visit on his testimony could have been sufficient for him to appear to be remembering detail from events two to three years previously, and so is problematic in terms of contamination of memory.
Even by the standards of the time, Bart Dogwood had a large number of interviews (five), with three (92/ 471, 92/ 474, 92/479) occurring over a three day period. All of these interviews of Bart Dogwood were characterised by the widespread use of suggestive and/or direct questioning, repetition of questions, and occasional use of social influence and of suggestive use of toys or dolls, the latter often having external genitalia. All of these methods of interviewing young children have been shown, in the literature reviewed separately by the writer, to have potential for suggestive influence on the accuracy of reports of young children.
Bart Dogwood's responses to these modes of investigation indicate that he is responsive to suggestion, that he follows suggestions and changes his testimony to follow suggestions, even if this makes that testimony inconsistent with previous statements by him within or across interviews. Bart appears alert to adult attention, as evidenced by his modification of his reports in the light of challenge. He may also seek to maintain adult attention, including that of the interviewer, his parents and his older siblings by generating allegations of abuse, given the nature and content of a number of his allegations.
Bart also has had considerable attention from his mother as a result of his allegations. He reports, and there is documentation from his mother to corroborate the facts, that he has regularly discussed issues, been asked questions, and been taken to different places by her in an effort to assist his recall and reporting of events. There is some indication that his mother persisted in having him reinterviewed from time to time. The effect of these efforts, well-intentioned though they may have been at the time, could have been to significantly contaminate Bart's evidence, through attention to his allegations, regardless of their validity, rehearsing his allegations by questioning him and discussing his allegations with him, and thus affecting the status of memory and recall, and by prompting possibly irrelevant memories by taking him to various sites where abuse may or may not have occurred.
Bart Dogwood's allegations cover an extensive range of alleged abuse, involve numerous adults and children, a variety of sites, and a considerable variety of special devices. The sheer logistics of undertaking the whole range of events under the circumstances described would appear enormous, as would the challenge of ensuring that no one actually discovered that all of this was occurring, often under the noses of creche workers. Bart creates a model of an extensive conspiracy among creche workers to either participate in the abuse or to ignore the conduct of it. Further, almost any one of the alleged sexual and physical abuse events also would be expected to have serious physical and/or psychological effects on the children at the time. These could include depression, extreme withdrawal and apathy, and/or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks, emotional and sleep disorders, and hypervigilance, as well as considerable resistance to attending creche or being in the proximity of allegedly abusive staff. The physical effects would be likely to include bruising blood-stained underclothing, pain in urination or defecation, and genital soreness or irritation.
One would also anticipate evidence of negative emotional responses, distress, flattened affect, or considerable vigilance and reluctance to report during interviewing. In the writer's opinion, Bart's behaviour does not reflect any responses other than would be expected from a normal child in conversation with an adult. He is at times happy and sings or hums, he focuses on the toys or is often describing dreadful events in a nonchalant and off-hand manner. Further, the terms he used to describe his feelings or emotions at the time rarely went beyond terms like 'sad' or 'mad' or 'hurt', when terror, extreme distress, considerable pain and great anxiety would be expected to be the actuality of the experiences.
Bart's memory for events is rarely effectively tested because of the extensive use of suggestive and/or direct questions, which allow a child to anticipate an answer. One unusual characteristic of his responding is his high frequency of repeating all or part of the question before replying. This may be a strategy to buy time to think of an answer, it may be to help him remember the question, regardless, it is a very unusual response in the writer's experience of such interviews with children. Bart often is inconsistent, this may be due to a faulty memory, to failure to track his responses over time, or to the fact that he has little idea, beyond a few rehearsed core facts, what he has said in respect of detail because he is focused primarily on the content of each question, and thus susceptible to any suggestive content. If he is responsive to, and seeking of. adult attention (and his behaviour suggests he may be), he may be more likely to want to please an inquiring adult. Children often appear keen to please adults, which is not surprising given their control of both resources and access to rewards and punishments and young children's general experience of adult authority.
The demand characteristics of these types of interviews are ones in which adults want information, often on topics whose discussion may, for children, be taboo. The element of permission-giving indeed encouragement, to talk about otherwise forbidden topics may sometimes tempt children to elaborate on the facts. Bart's reports often have elements that would raise doubts in a critical mind about the veracity of the claims being made. He occasionally acknowledges that he draws upon his exposure to films, TV. toys and fantasy play, and children's stories in giving detail. He also occasionally test the limits of the interviewer's belief in what he says (e.g., when he alleged Ellis had tried to stick a ladder up his bum, 92/474, p31), but rapidly backs down when challenged. This response to challenge also was evident when he was pressed over the use of burning paper and sticks (92/628) and amended how they were used on his bottom from insertion to between the cheeks).
In sum, the writer would have to advise considerable caution in accepting at face value the various allegations made by Bart Dogwood, given the circumstances under which his evidence has been obtained and given.