Peter Ellis Org : Seeking Justice for Peter Ellis
The Christchurch Civic Creche Case


Home Page

The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

A Chronology of an Injustice



20 November

First complaint in creche case"I do not like Peter's black penis". Peter Ellis is a white New Zealander.


21 November

Ellis suspended


25-29 Nov

Education Review Office inspection of creche


2 December

First mass meeting for creche parents


20 December

Creche investigation closed





23 January

Ellis dismissed


30 January

First formal disclosure


19 February

Creche investigation reopened


27 February

First formal disclosure resulting in a conviction



Formal interviews continue all year


20 March

News of investigation breaks in media


30 March

Ellis arrested


31 March

Ellis first court appearance


31 March

Second mass meeting for creche parents



Mother of complainant child writes to police asking for an expert in ritualistic abuse to discuss the subject


6 August

Formal disclosure of 'circle incident'


12 August

'Phase II police inquiry established


3 September

Creche closed


1 October

Four women creche workers arrested.
(Davidson, Keys, Buckingham, Gillespie).


2 November

Depositions hearing begins





11 February

Depositions hearing ends


5 March

Gillespie discharged


6 April

Davidson, Keys and Buckingham discharged


26 April

Ellis trial begins


21 May

University lecturer said to be persecuting student, because of his relationship with one of the discharged women - providing an indication of the hysteria of the times.


5 June

Ellis trial ends, Peter Ellis found guilty of 16 of 25 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche


20 June

Woman who initiated action against Peter Ellis identified as having gone on to accuse another male creche worker at a different creche. The woman is also a founding member of a private sexual abuse organisation.


22 June

Ellis sentenced to 10 years jail



Government rejects calls for commission of inquiry.



Felicity Goodyear-Smith writes a summary of the Civic Creche case, published in the IPT Journal, demonstrating a clear parallel to similar cases in other parts of the world.


16 November

Mother whose son first implicated Ellis, brings Ritual Abuse "expert" Pamela Hudson to New Zealand, sponsored by Presbyterian Support Services.


15 December

Women creche workers' application for costs declined.





14 February

First Ellis appeal aborted (N. Hampton QC).


25-28 July

First Ellis appeal begins (G. Panckhurst QC). The appeal on the grounds that there were gross inconsistencies in the evidence and that the bizarre nature of many of the allegations had not been addressed by the judge.


5 August

Ellis appeal ends



"End Ritual Abuse Society" formed in Christchurch by complainant parents in the Creche case.


8 September

Appeal judgment delivered. Court of Appeal rejects Ellis' first appeal, but quashes three convictions after one of the child complainants says she lied



Newly formed "End Ritual Abuse Society" obtains $1300 from the Lottery Grants Board.





22 February

Ellis applies for legal aid to Privy Council


27 Feb - 8 March

Creche staff Employment Court case


1 March

Crown psychiatrist Karen Zelas claimed that victims use "dissociation and denial" to protect themselves


15 March

Ellis Privy Council legal aid application declined.


16 March

Creche staff Employment Court interim judgment. Women granted $1 million by Judge Tom Goddard


11 April

Creche staff Employment Court supplementary judgment.Judge Goddard's decision criticised the council strongly for breaching its obligations as employer and closing the creche with no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of staff, other than Ellis


13 April

A former policeman on the Christchurch child abuse unit adds his voice to concerns about the way allegations are handled


8 June

Government rejects Government rejects the first formal call for an independent commission of inquiry





22 February

Judge Williamson who presided over the Ellis case, dies.



Trust formed with the backing of several Canterbury University academics, to raise money for an Ellis fighting fund.


15 July

David McLoughlin writes significant review of the case in "North and South" magazine: Second Thoughts on the Christchurch Civic Creche Case : Has Justice failed Peter Ellis?


27 July

Trust formed to collect funds for the reopening of the case, with several Christchurch academics as trustees.


21-22 August

Creche staff Employment Court appeal


26 September

Creche staff Employment Court appeal verdict, Court of Appeal slashes Employment Court compensation to about $170,000


29 September

Rod Donald, Alliance candidate and later to be Co-Leader of the Green Party, pushes for an investigation. Donald is a parent of a child who attended the Creche,


30 September

NZ Skeptics donate money to Ellis defence trust.





16 November

20/20 programme casts doubt on Ellis jurors and claims inquiry head Colin Eade had a history of psychiatric problems, including an obsessional personality; that Eade had intimate relationships with two of the complainants' mothers; that child recantations had been dismissed; and that there were irregularities with the jury. The programme also highlighted the climate of "satanic and ritual abuse" hysteria that had emanated from the United States, culminating in a family violence conference and evidence of local "hysteria" and "panic".


2 December

Ellis' lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr QC (who took up his case after his conviction), files her first petition seeking a pardon or rehearing of Ellis' case with the Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys. (petition for prerogative of mercy)



One of the complainant parents writes a book "A Motherís Story : The Civic Creche Child Sex Trial" under the pseudonym of "Joy Bander"






Ellis refuses, and is refused, parole


4 May

Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, refers Ellis case to Court of Appeal



The Appeal Court says it will confine its rehearing into the specific concerns about the case raised in the petition, with the hearing scheduled for 1999


18 November

Judith Ablett-Kerr QC, lawyer for Ellis, announces a second petition to the Governor-General seeking a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the whole case (Second petition for prerogative of mercy)






Second Ellis petition referred to Sir Thomas Thorp.


11 March

Ellis refuses, and is refused, parole


30 March

A paper on the background of satanic abuse, by Victoria University sociology Professor Michael Hill, published. "Satanís Excellent Adventure in the Antipodes"


13 May

Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, turns down the second petition, but agrees to widen the terms of the case which can be referred to the Appeal Court


5 - 9 July

Second Ellis appeal



Ellis' mother, Lesley, travels to Parliament to deliver a personal request for a Royal Commission of Inquiry


14 October

Second appeal judgment delivered, rejects Ellis case


18 October

Judith Ablett-Kerr QC, lawyer for Ellis, announces a third petition to the Governor-General seeking a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the whole case (Third petition for prerogative of mercy)





2 February

Ellis released from prison after serving the mandatory two-thirds of his sentence.


27 February

Peter Ellis interviewed on Television 20/20 by Melanie Read


10 March

Justice Minister Phil Goff announces a ministerial inquiry into the case, headed by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, focused on the reliability of evidence given by children in the trial. Inquiry established



Eichelbaum inquiry terms of reference criticised by Ellis supporters



Eichelbaum rejects all expert witnesses recommended by Ellis.


5 August

Group of psychologists attempt to prevent world expert on memory, Elizabeth Loftus from speaking at the annual Psychology Conference. The event underlined that there are still significant numbers of professionals who do not want to consider the possibility that memories of child abuse may be false.


31 August

Eichelbaum inquiry report delayed by six months





13 March

Eichelbaum Report released. Concludes that issues around the evidence against Ellis were handled properly and Ellis' case for pardon had failed


13 March

Government rejects calls for pardon and commission of inquiry


13 March

Police consider Eichelbaum report vindication of their "professionalism" in the case.


13 March

Ellis vows to keep fighting


16 March

Details of Sir Thomas Thorp's "secret" report, on the Ellis case are leaked to the media: Claims that his opinion casts doubt on the conviction


16 March

Goff denies that Thorp report casts doubt on convictionGoff says that calling the report secret was "misleading" - even though the report had never been made public.

(This site contains a copy of Sir Thomas Thorp's report)


17 March

Lawyer for Ellis, Judith Ablett Kerr QC, is angry Sir Thomas Thorp's recommendation that a formal opinion on the Peter Ellis case be sought from an expert American psychologist was twice rejected.


17 March

Ellis reported to be angry that Judge's report casting doubt on his conviction was kept secret for two years, but a second affirming his guilt was made public.


1 October

Lynley Hood's book, "A City Possessed", published, prompting a wave of fresh concern about the case.Lynley Hood reported as "believing there is evidence pointing to the innocence of Peter Ellis, quite apart from the lack of evidence of his guilt"


From Oct

Dozens of favorable reviews appear in a large number of publications, together with analysis of the information presented in "A City Possessed"





28 February

NZ Law Journal Editorial on the Ellis case. Outlines several systemic matters which "clearly require attention"


21 May

After months of dozens of glowing reviews of the book "A City Possessed" Val Sim of the Ministry of Justice reports to her Minister, Phil Goff


25 June

"A City Possessed" is reported to have caused a flood of letters to Goff, but he has "so far not found time to read it"


29 June

Lynley Hood wins prestigious Montana New Zealand "History Section" Book Award for "A City Possessed"


21 July

Lynley Hood wins Montana medal - New Zealand's premier literary award.- for her book "A City Possessed"


24 August

Val Sim of the Ministry of Justice said the book presented "very little new information", and all points raised had been considered by previous courts and inquiries.


26 August

Peter Ellis said Val Sim's review was a case of "the powers-that-be looking after themselves"





8 June

Petition launched by 100 prominent New Zealanders requesting a Royal Commission of Inquiry


10 June

Goff rebuffs petition, claiming a "requirement" for "new evidence", and saying petition based on "bad advice"


24 June

Lynley Hood says that Goff is badly advised by his officials on need for "new evidence"."Goff needs moral courage and political will"


24 June

Petition presented, including the name of one of the original complainants as well as judges, lawyers, politicians including previous Prime Ministers


25 June

Goff unswayed by petition


25 June

Publisher Barry Colman offers $100,000 reward for anyone providing information that could lead to a royal commission


1 July

Lynley Hood claims that in Ellis case, justice system has failed and has been unable to self-correct


1 July

Public pressure dictates the launch of a further more widely available public petition


3 August

Barry Colman publishes two page advertisement in Sunday Star Times, providing unedited excerpts from the children's testimony. The so-called "Toddler Testimonies" provide the public for the first time an understanding of how the abuse stories were coerced from them from adults.Barry Colman later provides this site ( with fuller transcripts.


3 August

Goff sees "nothing new" in advertisement


9 August

Lynley Hood, author of "A City Possessed" earns doctorate in literature, for the series of books she has written. One examiner states that "A City Possessed" would have been sufficient in itself to earn the degree.


10 August

Lynley Hood tells Phil Goff the 15 things he should know about the case.


16 August

Two complainants, now teenagers, state that they stand by their original complaints


20 August

Karen Zelas, psychiatrist who helped convict Peter Ellis blamed for causing a miscarriage of justice in another sex-abuse case.


20 August

This site publishes a Crown letter by Karen Zelas that the jury never got to see.


25 August

Further allegation made against Ellis: A man identified as "Nathan" alleges on National Radio that he was abused by Ellis in late 1985 as a four year old. The police did not act on that allegation.


26 August

Evidence presented that Ellis did not start working at the creche until almost a year later, proving that the new allegation is a lie


3 Sept

First Petition goes to committee


16 Sept

Goff wins "Bent Spoon award from Skeptic Society for refusing to revisit the Creche case.


25 Sept

Lack of male teachers in primary schools blamed on the "Peter Ellis Syndrome" - the fear of men that they will be falsely accused of abuse


6 October

Second petition presented


10 December

Petitioners make submissions to Select Committee considering the Ellis petitions.


3 January

Goff plans law change: Tougher pardon rules


22 January

Goff plans law change: Jury verdicts will not have to be the result of a unanimous decision