Episode 4 of the Newsroom series Peter Ellis, the creche case and me delves into the belief in an ever-expanding ring of sex abusers.

In never-before-seen footage and interviews, this gripping new series takes you inside one of New Zealand’s most controversial legal cases, when a kind of madness gripped Christchurch, resulting in a miscarriage of justice that would take 30 years to put right.

Peter Ellis, the creche case & me is an 8-part Newsroom Investigates video series and podcast presented by Melanie Reid. WATCH EPISODE 4 ABOVE OR LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

New Zealanders had never heard anything quite like it – that a ring of child sex abusers had been operating undercover at the Christchurch City Council-owned creche, carrying out horrific and bizarre acts against children.

The suspected abusers were Peter Ellis and now four women creche workers – three of them mothers, including a former president of the Plunket Society.

Police raided the suburban homes of the women, stripping the contents, trawling a backyard goldfish pond, climbing up into rooves with mirrors and emptying board games, before arresting and charging them with a raft of offences, including sexual violation of a child with a stick, indecent assault and one of them having sex at the creche in front of the children.

So strong was the belief in a network of sex abusers, Ellis’ mother even appeared in the firing line at one point.

Lead police detective, Colin Eade, was convinced there were at least 10 offenders, and told ACC that any child who disclosed anything to their parents should be eligible for a no questions asked $10,000 sex abuse victim payout. In the end, ACC would dish out more than $500,000 to creche families.

Government departments, therapists, police, social workers and ACC all piled on top of one another which seemingly validated what was being claimed – and what was not even vaguely plausible somehow became believable.

Indeed, why would all of these major government agencies be involved if it wasn’t happening?

For Ellis and now the women creche workers, it was all so outlandish they would have laughed out loud – if it weren’t being taken so seriously that a group of regular, caring creche workers were now suspected child abusers.

“The truth wasn’t good enough for them, because they didn’t want the truth.”

Peter Ellis, the creche case & me is an 8-part Newsroom Investigates video series and podcast presented by Melanie Reid. WATCH EPISODE 5 OR LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

To join the conversation and check out extraordinary images and clips from the series, follow us on Facebook, TikTok or Instagram.

This series contains discussion of themes that some people may find distressing. Click here for a list of support services and helplines.

Melanie Reid is Newsroom's lead investigations editor.

Leave a comment