CRITIQUE OF THE EICHELBAUM REPORT AND MATTERS ARISING FROM THE PETER ELLIS CONVICTIONS


 

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Links to following downloadable PDF and mp3 files, Right-click link, choose "Save target as":

 

 

NEW LINK!  October 2009. Peter Ellis: The Case for a Commission of Inquiry by Ross Francis, author of  NEW EVIDENCE IN THE PETER ELLIS CASE  Zealand Law Journal;  November, December 2007

 

DISCLOSURE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE What Does the Research Tell Us About the Ways That Children Tell?.   K.London, M. Bruck, S.J. Ceci, D.W. Shuman, American Psychological Association, Psychology Public Policy and Law 2005, Vol 11, No 1, 194-226.

NEW EVIDENCE IN THE PETER ELLIS CASE   Ross Francis, New Zealand Law Journal;  November, December 2007

Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe 1980

Paper for presentation at The Second International Conference on Children Exposed to Family Violence – London Ontario 1997   Wendy Ball, The University of Waikato. (See section 1.7 iii)

 

 

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Wikipedia article on Civic Crèche and Peter Ellis case

 

 

 


“Whenever a judicial inquiry is set up it has a particular purpose. That purpose is not to make a public crisis of confidence deeper. It is to shore up a government which might otherwise be under threat. One does not have to be a fiery radical, an anarchist or a subversive to arrive at this conclusion. Just such a view was stated boldly at the beginning of an article in last week’s Economist: ‘When prime ministers are in trouble they call for a judge to bail them out.’’

 

Author Richard Webster, August 2003  [ www.richardwebster.net ]

 




Section Contents

Title Page
Disclaimer
Preface

Acknowledgements
Document Contents includes update information
Next Section
Document Contents | Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | References | Appendices |

 

 


CRITIQUE OF THE EICHELBAUM REPORT AND MATTERS ARISING FROM THE ELLIS CONVICTIONS

Written and researched by Jonathon Harper M.A. (Psychology) B.A. (Philosophy and Psychology) Dip.Tchg. (previous member of the Social Worker Association of New Zealand – ex -DSW social worker and ex - schoolteacher)

Edited and assisted by Richard Christie

Revision number 23 (January 2006)

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This document can be regarded as a work in progress. Until it is formally published, new information may be added as it comes to hand, and corrections may be made. All suggestions are welcome and can be made to Jonathon.harper@xtra.co.nz

The Eichelbaum Report is the report of the ministerial inquiry into the reliability of the convictions against Peter Ellis for child abuse, prepared for the Honourable Phil Goff, completed in February 2001, released in March 2001.

Eichelbaum's Report into the Peter Ellis case can be read and downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website:
http:/www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/s/sir-thomas-eichelbaums-report-into-the-peter-ellis-case/?searchterm=Peter%20Ellis

Additional documentation pertaining to the selection of international experts for the inquiry - Official correspondence between Eichelbaum and Ministry Justice advisers; Submissions by the Crown, Parents, Commissioner for Children, J Ablett Kerr (counsel for Peter Ellis); Justice Minister's advice to Governor General can be accessed on this website: Link


Disclaimer
The author does not claim that anyone mentioned in this document has acted out of malice or in bad faith, although he has concluded that serious and avoidable mistakes were made in the course of the Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre (often referred to as the Civic Crèche) case. Therefore, let no one claim that he says otherwise. All opinions, unless quoted directly are the author’s, any errors of fact are inadvertent.
In particular, the motives of all the parents of the children involved in the course of the case will not be maligned in this document. Their genuine concern for their children’s well-being is acknowledged by the author.

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Preface
 
Sir Thomas Eichelbaum found that the way the child interviews in this case were conducted was "of a good overall quality" even by present day standards. He reported that one of his two overseas experts Dr Louise Sas concluded that the contamination of evidence by the parent’s prior questioning of the children was not significant. The other expert, Professor. Graham Davies, did not report a conclusion on this point. Eichelbaum concluded that all remaining convictions are safe. This report evaluates the Eichelbaum report from a scientific viewpoint, looking at relevant findings published in reputable journals. It was prepared in consultation with a number of leading experts within New Zealand. Much of the relevant science cited is within the discipline of psychology, specifically in the areas of human memory (especially children’s) and suggestibility. This science addresses the effects of interview techniques on the accuracy of children’s recall, both of real and imagined events.
Good science is also based on sound philosophy and the use of logic. Section (1) of this report, on bias, includes a short analysis of logic and what constitutes good scientific protocol.
The primary issue examined in this report is the safety or otherwise of all the convictions against Peter Ellis. I examined whatever information I consider has bearing on this, as no one had imposed any terms of reference upon me. Furthermore, and regardless of the conclusions made in regard to the safety of the convictions, there were secondary issues that arose as a result of this analysis. These issues are of public importance. I include a discussion section, after the formal conclusions of the report, which looks at issues raised in terms of our legal system. I discuss possible law changes that may be needed for the better resolution of similar cases in the future.

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Acknowledgements
 
I am indebted to the following people who have provided encouragement, suggestions and some of the material: Auckland University professor of psychology, Michael Corballis ONZM (especially for his comments on the nature of memory) Richard Christie (who brought the document back to life), and Dr Barry Kirkwood, who opened my mind to the reality of "major systemic failure" and the immature state of psychology as a science.
I thank Nancy Sutherland for her input into the editing of this document.
I am also grateful to Raymond Ahipene-Mercer (Wellington City Councillor) for his general support and encouragement.
I gratefully acknowledge the meticulous record contained in Hood’s landmark book, A City Possessed (2001). Excepting direct quotes from Hood, any interpretations given of her findings are my own.

Jonathon Harper, October 2003.

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Note on pseudonyms

Publication of the identities of the complainants in the Ellis case is prohibited by court order. This document uses dual aliases in reference to complainants and families. Official court  documentation and Eichelbaum’s report utilise single letters O,P,Z etc as ciphers for the complainant children. These codes are matched in this document to the pseudonyms used within Lynley Hood’s book, A City Possessed, 2001, Longacre Press.


Document Contents

Revised October 2004 (minor changes to text and structure - changes not detailed)

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(1) The Document Structure - an overview of the sections:

Title Page; Preface; Acknowledgements; Contents
Introduction
(1) A priori bias
(2) The corroborating forensic evidence
(3) The Evidential Child Interviews
(4) Changes in "best practice."
(5) A scientific analysis of other factors affecting reliability of the testimony
(6) A Fair Trial?
(7) The Appeals
(8) Expert Opinion
(9) Conclusions
(10) Discussion – consequences
References
Appendices

(2) Content of the sections:

Disclaimer
Preface
Acknowledgements

Introduction


Summary of the case history
Public Criticism of the case and verdicts
The Eichelbaum Report
The Terms of Reference
The central issue


(1) A priori bias

(1) A priori bias
(1.1) Terminology
.
Disclosure
. Consistent with
. Mass Child Abuse
. In Denial
(1.2) Child Protection Movement
(1.3) Satanic Ritual Abuse
(1.4) The Evidential Interviews
. Selectivity bias
. The evidential interviewing team
(1.5) Bias within Institutions
. (i) The Ministry of Justice
. (ii) The Christchurch City Council
. (iii) The Police
(1.6) Justice Williamson
(1.7) Bias evident within the Eichelbaum Report
. (i) Graham Davies’ contribution
. (ii) Louise Sas’s contribution
. (iii) Eichelbaum
(1.8) Conclusions


(2) The corroborating forensic evidence

(2) The corroborating forensic evidence
(2.1) Bodily Signs
(2.2) Toilet Layout
. Figure 1. Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre layout
(2.3) Homes Searched
(2.4) The Great Video Hunt
(2.5) ERO Report
(2.6) Window of opportunity
(2.7) Other parents and children
(2.8) Conclusions


(3) The Evidential Child Interviews


(3) The Evidential Child Interviews
(3.1) An effective "truth" test
(3.2) Open and closed questions
(3.3) Repeating a question
(3.4) Length of interviews
(3.5) Number of interviews
(3.6) Use of imagination to "aid recall"
(3.7) Little challenging of the children’s statements (source monitoring)
(3.8) Leading questions
(3.9) The use of body-part charts
(3.10) Anatomically correct dolls
(3.11) Accepting denial
(3.12) Verbal and non-verbal reinforcers
(3.13) Priming of Interviewers
(3.14) Conclusions


(4) Changes in "best practice."


(4) Changes in Best Practice
(4.1) The Prue Vincent case
(4.2) Non-verbal leakage and lie detection
(4.3) Truth testing
(4.4) The official word in changes to interview protocols
(4.5) Continuing inaction from the NZ Psychological Society
(4.6) Elizabeth Loftus’s recommendations
(4.7) Conclusions

(5) A scientific analysis of other factors affecting reliability of the testimony

(5) A Scientific analysis of other factors affecting the reliability of the evidence
(5.1) Memory distortion and memory construction through contamination
. (i) The Evidence for Contamination by parents
. (ii) Contamination by Children
. (iii) Contamination by Police
. (iv) Contamination by Child Therapists
. (v) Contamination by Adult Counsellors
. (vi) Contamination by Social workers
(5.2) The significance of delay between the alleged events and the allegations
(5.3) The significance of the ages of the children
. (i) Infantile amnesia and memory recall in young children
. (ii) Spontaneous false allegations in young children
. (iii) Children in the courtroom
(5.4) Suggestibility in young children
(5.5) Do the children’s "symptoms" of abuse have any scientific validity?
(5.6) Is consistency proof of reliability?
(5.7) Coercion
(5.8) A statistical analysis of the reliability of the experts’ evaluation of the evidence
(5.9) The effect on reliability of the proportion of impossible and unlikely allegations
(5.10) The retracted evidence
(5.11) Repressed Memory and Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome
(5.12) Comparison with overseas cases
(5.13) Conclusions

(6) A Fair Trial?


(6) A Fair Trial?
(6.1) The City Possessed
. (i) SRA as a Mass Hysteria
. (ii) The Civic Child Care Centre case as a Satanic Ritual Abuse Scare
. (iii) Other SRA cases
. (iv) The Media’s role in fanning hysteria
(6.2) The effect on the trial of depositions pre-trial rulings
(6.3) The appointment of expert witnesses
(6.4) The conduct of Justice Williamson
. (i) Williamson’s interactions with Zelas
. (ii) The biased and unfair influence of Zelas
. (iii) Warning to the Jury about children’s evidence
. (iv) Ruling on parental questioning and meetings
. (v) Indulgence with parent witnesses
. (vi) Indulgence with the prosecution
. (vii) Sentencing
. (viii) Williamson's health
(6.5) Incomplete review of evidence
. (i) Videotapes of the interviews
. (ii) Alternative Explanations
(6.6) Paedophile profile
(6.7) Unbalanced and unscientific interpretations of evidence
. (i) Contamination ignored
. (ii) "Symptoms of Abuse"
(6.8) The case against the women
(6.9) Comparison with New Zealand MVMO Case

(6.10) Police misconduct
(6.11) A conviction illustrating the preceding points
(6.12) Conclusions


(7) The Appeals


The First Appeal (1994)
The Second Appeal (1999)

(8) Expert Opinion


(8) Expert Opinion
(8.1)     Opinion in favour of Royal Commission of Inquiry into the case and/or those holding doubts in regard to the safety of the verdicts
(8.2)     Those in favour of the convictions
(8.3)     Experts who have not yet given a professional opinion

(9) Conclusions


1.         A Serious Moral Panic Existed
2.         Media hysteria was unacceptable
3.         Absence of spontaneous allegation
4.         The evidence was contaminated
5.         Children can and do lie
6.         Absence of hard evidence and corroboration
7.         The time delays made the children’s testimony useless
8.         The abuse "symptom" syndrome does not exist
9.         The child interviews were substandard
10.       Paedophile profile
11.       Bias
12.       The trial was unfair
13.       The "Experts" were not scientifically thorough in their analysis
14.       The women were not guilty
15.       Post trial revelations
16.       Final Verdict

(10) Discussion – consequences


(10) Discussion
(10.1)   The treatment of other accused childcare workers
(10.2)   Psychological science and forensic interviewing system
(10.3)   Psychological science and forensic interviewing individuals
(10.4)   Other sexual abuse workers
(10.5)   Appointment of expert witnesses
(10.6)   The 1989 Evidence Act amendments
(10.7)   The terms of reference – Civic Child Care Centre layout
(10.8)   The statute of limitations
(10.9)   Eichelbaum
(10.10) Other documents for review
(10.11) Overturning the convictions
(10.12) Ministry of Justice failures
(10.13) Why did the legal appeals fail?
(10.14) A history of injustices
(10.15) The Unfair Dismissal claim
(10.16) Improving the Safety Net
(10.17) Final note

References


Appendices

Appendix 1
The genesis of this report

Appendix 2
Aliases, ages, verdict and interview data

Appendix 3
Other possible NZ cases

Appendix 4
Draft table of currently supported good interview practices for pre-school children.

Appendix 5
The Terms of Reference

End of Section

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Additional documentation pertaining to the selection of international experts for the inquiry - Official correspondence between Eichelbaum and Ministry Justice advisers; Submissions by the Crown, Parents, Commissioner for Children, J Ablett Kerr (counsel for Peter Ellis); Justice Minister's advice to Governor General can be accessed on this website: Link

Link to pdf 135KB:

 
DISCLOSURE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE What Does the Research Tell Us About the Ways That Children Tell?.   K.London, M. Bruck, S.J. Ceci, D.W. Shuman, American Psychological Association, Psychology Public Policy and Law 2005, Vol 11, No 1, 194-226.

 

 

 Civic Protest

 

 

 

 

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