Peter Ellis, now deceased, is appealing his 1993 convictions.
A parent’s anxiety about satanic ritual abuse could have led to a false allegation of sexual abuse against Peter Ellis, the Supreme Court has heard.
The court is hearing an appeal by Civic creche worker Peter Ellis against convictions of sexually abusing children in his care.
At a trial in 1993, Ellis faced 28 charges relating to nine girls and four boys, and was convicted of 16 charges regarding seven children. One girl recanted in 1994 reducing the guilty verdicts to 13 charges.
Although he died in September 2019, Ellis’ appeal to the Supreme Court was allowed to proceed, with the hearing starting its second week on Tuesday.
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Ellis’ counsel Rob Harrison, in making final submissions on Tuesday, said an “abundance” of evidence was available to show the complainant children had taken on information from a variety of sources before their formal interviews and either regurgitated that information or used it to create accounts.
As an example, he highlighted a letter in August 1992 to police from the parent of a complainant child (Child 5) in which she lamented an evidential interview with her child had been cancelled because of her questioning.
In the letter the mother reported the child talked to her about another two Christchurch creches being involved in sexual abuse and other workers at the Civic creche being sexual offenders. The letter also referred to a counsellor, with whom the child was in therapy, wanting satanic ritual abuse expert Pamela Hudson to come to New Zealand from Australia to assist in the case.
In other notes the woman made after formal interviews, she also referred to the counsellor’s report her child had recognised four satanic symbols in sessions with her.
Harrison said the purpose of referring to the letter was to show the process by which a child could be “readied” to give false accounts.
While he could never show the contamination actually ended up with an untrue account, it was “unreal” to say the questioning could not end up contaminating the evidence.
If police were confident Child 5’s evidence was not the result of contamination, it raised the question of why did they not investigate the two creches the boy mentioned?
And why, Harrison said, did the police not charge Ellis with multiple counts of sodomy based on what the boy said in his fifth of six interviews?
Asked by Justice Joe Williams when a jury could be sure children were telling the truth, Harrison pointed to the absence of contamination and being properly interviewed.
In other submissions for the appellant, Bridget Irvine said, although no interviews could have cured the risk of contamination, the interviews in the Ellis case also fell short of best practice.
One of the main problems with the interviews was the high level of suggestive questions before the children’s first allegation against Ellis. As an example, Child 1 fielded 46 abuse-related questions before making an allegation that led to a charge against Ellis.
Although Crown experts had concluded the use of toys, diagrams, drawings and anatomical dolls did not lead to any new allegations, a detailed analysis of two children who were interviewed with the aid of dolls, showed how, in combination with suggestive and repeated questions, distractions and a play-like atmosphere, unreliable allegations could eventuate, Irvine said.
Sue Gray, also representing Ellis, said evidence given by psychiatrist Karen Zelas as an expert for the Crown at Ellis’ trial in 1993 created an “undeniable” risk the trial was unfair to Ellis.
Her repeated references to clusters of behaviour she said were consistent with child sexual abuse were scientifically unsound, and she spoke to the sexual knowledge of the complainants which was not permitted, Gray said.
Zelas also commented on the credibility of the complainants and her role was compromised because she was invested in the police investigation and the interviewing processes.
The hearing continues.
This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author MARTIN VAN BEYNEN on date 2021-10-12 04:54:45