March 10, 2008

Sep 05, AU edition

russ5.jpgLOST IN TRANSLATION
She was a Russian dancer. He was a suburban psychopath. IAN WISHART has the story of a paedophile’s manipulation of the law to gain access to children, and a trail of wrecked lives he’s left behind him

Teardrops well, glistening in the soft evening light, but they never fall. ‘I can’t cry anymore,’ she says after a moment, gathering herself again. ‘I don’t cry’, she repeats, softly, more to herself than anyone else. Her name is Elena Reznikova*, and on a cold August night she’s a long way from home, back in the Ukraine. The story of a journey from her life as a Russian ballerina to being surrounded by semi-stacked boxes of files in a tatty suburban law office after hours, is a long and, like many Russian stories, tragic one.

Daughter of a Soviet Air Force pilot, her mother a nurse, Elena Reznikova had a relatively normal childhood in communist Russia. Born in the remote province of Khazakstan – a legacy that would return to haunt her Down Under – Elena’s parents shifted to a home in rural Ukraine, not far from a local nuclear power station named Chernobyl. She draws back the collar of her turtleneck sweater: ‘See, I still have scar from cancer’, she notes, touching her throat. Her voice is hoarse and barely there.

As if sensing the unspoken question, she adds: ‘I have lost my voice, all year. Stress. It will kill me eventually, I think.’
Stress. Now there’s an understatement.

It was back in February 2001 that Elena met Paul Copeland – originally from Australia, now transplanted to New Zealand – courtesy of a Russian bride internet agency.

‘I wanted to get out of Ukraine, out of Russia’, she reflects. ‘I met a person on internet line. He look good. He promised me beautiful life, I would “bloom like a flower”. I fell in love with his photos, I was ready to take care of his children. He said he needs a woman who will look after his children, who will cook, who will clean – and I was the best – and I was ready to be a stepmother, to be friendly with his other partners. Because he was like me, he had three different children from three different relationships. Can you imagine this madness?’

Elena had been married and divorced. Like thousands of Russian women, she was deserted by the men in her life because of appalling economic conditions over there.

‘My friends told me, ‘don’t give up, you can find a good man’. Because it is impossible to find in Ukraine, with children, it is economic, men are unable to provide.’

Copeland, she says, was everything she thought she wanted in a man. ‘All my girlfriends were crazy about him because he was good looking, charming, gentleman, just a little bit drunk, but we just thought he liked his beer, as we do in the Ukraine.’

But Elena had no idea Copeland had a very dark past, despite an incident that ever so slightly foreshadowed what she would later discover.

‘My neighbours came over. We have a tradition in Russia to make a person drunk because we want to know how he acts when he is drunk, because people are different when they are drunk. Paul was drinking and drinking, and he started to try and jump off the second floor balcony, because he said he was trying to escape being locked up.’
In 1989, Paul Copeland hit the headlines throughout New Zealand for trying to murder his first wife with a crossbow in Tauranga. It was a well-publicised court case, with testimony of terror.

A report from his trial in May 1990 recounts the facts: ‘A 32 year old Tauranga man tried to kill his estranged wife by shooting her with a hunting bow and arrow…from only a foot away…the broadhead spear arrow penetrated part of the woman’s liver, stomach and one of her lungs, poking out the other side of her body.

‘She managed to make her way to the kitchen where she tried to use the phone but was prevented by Copeland, who forced her up against a wall in the hallway opposite the kitchen.

‘Feeling dizzy, she had slid down the wall but managed to get up again to make her way downstairs and to her car where her young daughter was waiting for her. She had collapsed beside the car and neighbours who saw her had rushed to her aid,’ the Crown Prosecutor was recorded as telling the High Court at Rotorua.

‘Copeland, from an upstairs window, had asked several times if she was dead yet.’

He was found not guilty by reason of ‘temporary’ insanity. Copeland, you see, had always been troubled. His father was named in investigations as a violent alcoholic paedophile who had allegedly sodomised his young son. In his early teenage years, Paul Copeland allegedly returned the favour by raping one of his younger sisters. There were burglaries, drug use, car thefts and fraud charges. Violence towards animals was also a Copeland trademark – executing cats and other small animals by bludgeoning them, revelling in the gore.

russ4.jpgLittle surprise that the teenager ended up in the Tokanui mental institution as a result of his behaviour. Family members would later talk of assault incidents in Australia with drink driving and firearms convictions added into the mix.

None of this, however, was contained in the internet dating agency files as Copeland linked up with Reznikova in far off Ukraine. Instead, the New Zealander turned on the charm, promising marriage and more to the former ballerina and mother of two boys.

‘He said he wanted to make me pregnant, that this was beautiful because I need a baby girl, so we need to do it immediately because it would be easier to get visas.’

By August 2001, Elena was pregnant with their child – her third.
‘Paul was very good for about two weeks after I got pregnant, then he started to drink, he said he’d spent all the money for tickets, nearly, and I said, “Listen, we have to have money for tickets to go to your country”.’

In September that year, the couple and Elena’s youngest son, Yuri, landed in Auckland.

‘I couldn’t speak English. None. I couldn’t put sentence together. I couldn’t make myself understood. I left behind my eldest son because the immigration people in Moscow said it would be hard to get him out here, because Paul didn’t have enough money to pay. But he promised me he would bring him out later.

‘I’d always wanted to speak English well, like I do now. I wanted my children to speak English, and I wanted to have a good job and be happy. So New Zealand looked to me like a countryside that I liked, because my family came from the countryside. We had 100 turkeys. My family grows vegetables, we have lots of food, very hard working people.’

Clean and green the countryside in her new home might have been, but behind the four walls of Copeland’s house she began to discover his demons.

‘When I arrived in September I used to clean the house because I was a good cleaner…and I found some photos of other women with children, in Spain, Africa and elsewhere. So I asked him, ‘was this your previous girlfriend?’ He said ‘no, I just used to live with her for a while’. I said ‘why didn’t you bring her to New Zealand?’. He said ‘she wasn’t good, but her children were good’.’

Elena wasn’t quite sure what he meant.

‘When we first arrived, we had sex all weekend, every day, but when his other children arrived he wasn’t interested in me, he doesn’t have sex with me. I’m asking him, ‘Paul, I’m waiting for you upstairs’, but he never came up. I’m four months pregnant but I’m a woman who is still healthy, you know.’

Over the weeks and months of her pregnancy that followed over the summer of 2001, Elena claims Copeland became more and more distant, more focused on the children, including Elena’s six year old Yuri.
‘On the beach I noticed that he was putting his fingers in between the children’s legs every time he picked them up. His children always used to scream in the bath. I said to him, you bath boy, I bath girl. He was always present in the bath when the children were there. I don’t leave babies in the bath alone, but when children are five or older it is a different thing.

‘I often heard the children sobbing, and once [his daughter Amanda, from his second wife] came out crying and I asked “who hurt you”, and she pointed at Paul saying “him”.

‘He used to call me worthless, and good-for-nothing whore. On the few times we had sex after that he became violent, even though I was pregnant. He never kissed me, and turned my face away during the act of intercourse. He was cold and brutal. Then, at the end, he got worse. He had so much sex with me at the end that I had premature baby.’

Their child, Nicholai, was born in March 2002, with complications.
‘When he was born the baby didn’t breathe, and he said “I don’t know why I should have to buy expensive medicine just to keep the baby alive”. He refused to buy medicine, so I used to go to the church, and there was a very good woman there and she gave me $20.’

When the baby had to be rushed to hospital, Paul Copeland allegedly took his time.

‘He wanted the child to die. He told me. He didn’t want to take me to hospital. He went so slow. As a mother, I’m lucky I have medical skills to keep this child healthy and alive, so when he got better – it was four months later – I moved out of the house.

‘There was a neighbour across the road, and everybody knew about his background, nobody told me, it was a huge secret from me. And when I used to speak to people in the church, everywhere, people used to be so nice, they understood my problem and thought they would encourage him to marry me, so I would get residence. But I wanted to go back to Ukraine because I left my son behind and he told me I will never see him. Then he said if I went back he would keep my two other children with him, so I used to carry on in the home, being with him together, and no one could help.’

When she tried to get Copeland to sign their baby’s birth certificate, he spat the dummy.

russ2b.jpg‘He screamed at me about a former wife who had taken his money. He called her ‘a bitch, a whore and a lesbian’, and swore that no woman would ever get anything from him, although he did eventually sign the certificate.’

During this time, she says, Copeland would often threaten to have her deported back to Ukraine without her children. ‘I’ll keep them, and you won’t be able to go to court because I’ll make you leave the country.’

Copeland also took the unusual step of publishing a photograph of his fiancée onto an internet porn site, along with a story about their sexual exploits when he first met her in Russia: ‘My Elena didn’t like to drink, that was a problem! Still, I had my two beers and the offer of SEX was on, it was the Russian wash down now with no hot water from the tap. So Elena would fill a basin with hot water, and I would sit in the bath. Elena would wet me then with soap wash my body down, then rinse me. Now, guys who haven’t experienced this, it is good, very good to receive this care. So we are clean now, and it’s time to get dirty, so it’s off to the bed again for a lesson in Russian! The sex was good, very good…as will be revealed soon.’

The revelations are too graphic to reprint in a family magazine.
Elena could see no way out. Although her understanding of English was growing, she still found it hard to speak it, and many people simply wrote her off as ‘an over-emotional Russian’. But the woman from the church who’d paid for the medicine to save Nicholai’s life turned out to be a guardian angel.

‘So that woman, she said “I will help you go to a Women’s Refuge”. I said “what is that?” Because we don’t have that in our country. Can you imagine how crazy it seemed for me to leave for Women’s Refuge with four-months-old baby, and leave the man whom I loved, believe me. Later on I realised it was only about that he wants children to abuse.’

Elena fled on a Friday afternoon with baby and older son in tow. She asked the Women’s Refuge to help get her deported back to the Ukraine on the grounds that her immigration status was now void because of the relationship break-up. And she didn’t have the money herself for airfares. But on Monday morning, Paul Copeland had already obtained a court ruling preventing Elena from taking baby Nicholai out of New Zealand.

The Russian mother was trapped. Her own immigration status meant she now had to leave New Zealand; the court order meant her four month old baby son could not go with her. Paul taunted her by threatening to keep Yuri as well.

‘He always told me that he would send me back to Ukraine but he was keeping Yuri with him.’

Even so, Elena Reznikova still had no idea just what her fiancé had done in his past. It wasn’t until Paul’s sister picked her up from the refuge that the missing pieces of the jigsaw began to tumble into place.

‘She told me her brother is a paedophile, and he raped her and two others. And their father was a paedophile. It was like a dream for me because she got my Russian dictionary and she showed me the words. I hadn’t realised then that he had tried to kill his ex-wife. I was more shocked when I found that out.’

It was at this point that Elena was introduced to Copeland’s third wife, a woman named Elizabeth who’s still living in hiding, 11 years after first meeting Copeland. Elena had found a contact number for her and rang her from the Women’s Refuge. Elizabeth says she could barely understand the distressed Russian woman with the thick accent, but she took down bottles so she could feed baby Nicholai. When she heard Elena’s suspicions that the children had been sexually abused, this former Copeland bride heard the penny drop. Elizabeth immediately phoned Copeland’s sister when she got home, who explained that Paul had also sexually abused her when she was a child. ‘You should believe Elena,’ Copeland’s sister told Elizabeth.

It turned out Elizabeth was another foreign woman lured into Copeland’s orbit in 1994, just four years after his trial for trying to murder his first wife. Elizabeth’s own marriage was in difficulty, and she says Copeland was ‘very romantic’ and charming, and convinced her to leave her husband. She says he acted like a father to her two daughters, and ‘got me pregnant two months after we met’.
Sound familiar? Copeland told Elizabeth it would be easier to get residency if she was pregnant.

Once his victim was trapped, Copeland moved from suave suitor to Hannibal Lecter, catching the neighbour’s cat, gassing it, and then burning it in front of his wife despite her pleas to spare the creature.

A recent study suggested people who torture animals are more likely to be sexual abusers. On the Richter scale of deviance, Paul Copeland was already an 11.

After Elizabeth and Paul’s son, Timothy, was born in 1995, he again turned his attention to Elizabeth’s two older daughters, often watching them shower, poking them frequently with a toilet brush while they were naked, assaulting them, verbally abusing them, making one of the girls pick up excrement in the garden using only her bare hands.
Elizabeth worked nights, leaving her husband to babysit six-month-old Timothy and her two daughters. The children’s grandmother would often pop in and find the girls weeping and distressed. He teased one of the older girls about her weight, calling her Moby Dick, and suggested to a family friend the other ‘would be a slut and pregnant’ by the time she was 14.

It was around this time that Elizabeth, wife number three, discovered a box under the stairwell containing files relating to Copeland’s childhood and the fates of wives one and two.

She read of the bow and arrow attack on wife one, the declaration of temporary insanity and the very brief spell in Tokanui Hospital before the psychopathic Copeland had convinced the cuckoo-keepers he was sane enough to fly the nest. She read of how Paul had allegedly been raped by his own father, and the history of sex abuse in his family. She discovered how he’d met wife number two, a German woman (mother of Amanda), and burned her passport and all her papers. How he’d smashed all the windows in his house on one occasion, and psychiatric reports detailing the horrific tortures he’d practiced on animals as a child.
Naturally, after reading all this, Elizabeth became absolutely terrified about what might happen to her and her children.

When she tried to leave, and she did so half a dozen times, Copeland would invariably track her down, stalk her and terrify her until she returned. In the end, however, he booted her out along with her two daughters. Elizabeth says he physically threw them out the door, locked it and stayed inside with Timothy and Amanda. By the time Elizabeth returned with help, Copeland had barricaded both of his biological children in an upstairs bedroom.

Elizabeth staked out the local supermarket and tried to grab Timothy from the shopping trolley while Copeland’s back was turned, but he foiled the rescue by screaming ‘Help, this woman is stealing my son!’ He put Timothy in hiding. Police eventually found the two year old at Copeland’s sister’s house.

The stalking and terror got worse, however, and eventually Copeland managed to convince Elizabeth that he would leave her alone if she’d just give him access on alternative weeks to Timothy.

Mindful of the crossbow attack, Elizabeth signed the custody form.
It was after that, she says, that she noticed her little boy’s behaviour change markedly on his return from access visits; it was, she says unusually aggressive and strange.

This, then, was the story of wife number three.

The woman who would have been number four, Elena, is deeply saddened at the fate of Copeland’s first two children.

russ7.jpg‘Last time I saw Timothy and Amanda they put their heads down, they know that I know their problem but I can’t help them. They don’t talk, they’re very embarrassed to tell anybody what’s happening to them because they’re scared that their father will kill them. He told them, “I will kill you if you tell anyone”. He told it to my son but my son is Russian and Russians are very strong. We have a, how do you say, self, self-preservation, as a child when you’re young. You learn to save yourself in a difficult situation, even losing your life.’

In the past year, Elena’s older son Yuri has told of being made to watch naked children on Copeland’s computer during the months that Copeland has had Nicholai in his care, and Elena’s family friends say Nicholai has complained of a “sore bottom”, and “dad touching me in the bottom”.

‘I have three boys,’ says Elena. ‘I have a lot of experience as a mother of boys. When they are small their penises never stand up, they don’t have hormones for sex, but my little boy, his penis is so sensitive. I think it has been massaged. He wakes up at night and says “it hurts”. I am so scared what will happen to him if he goes back to his father. This child has already been damaged.’

Yuri says he and the other children witnessed Paul Copeland interfering with Nicholai’s genitals and bottom – in fact, all the children were made to watch it.

Elena obtained a psychologist’s report on Yuri two years ago, and she says the psychologist was convinced Yuri had also been abused.
She says one of the most frightening things about Copeland is his psychopathic aloofness.

He’s absolutely normal in public, but he’s not normal. His body language is absolutely absent. He doesn’t move, there’s no body language. I didn’t want to have anything to do with a former criminal anymore because I was scared that one day I would have to protect myself and the lives of my children. He told me I would never see my eldest son again, and I haven’t seen him in four years, his threat came true.

‘When I go to bed I feel that I’m already dead or am unable to leave, or help my children to be happy, to be together. The man is killing me psychologically, emotionally. He would like to kill me physically. He has already tried to kill his ex-wife.

‘My second relationship, my partner said “Elena, I can’t pay these bills for lawyers, this is crazy, just give the child away”. I said, “Peter, this is sexual abuse”. He said, “I know”. He said, “sorry Elena, I do love you but with all these problems I don’t want you. I don’t want your children”.’

Nor has the New Zealand Government come to the rescue of the children. The Immigration Service has cancelled Elena’s right to stay in New Zealand, and wants to deport her, if necessary without her children who would be left in the care of Paul Copeland.

‘My application for residence was cancelled because I was born in Khazakstan. It’s another nonsense. Khazakstan is part of Russia and it appears on my birth certificate, but my parents took me out of Khazakstan when I was two months old, so Immigration Service asked me for a police certificate from Khazakstan, and it’s impossible to get! It’s so stupid.’

It wouldn’t be the first time New Zealand’s bureaucrats have been called stupid.

With Copeland continuing to stalk her and harass the men helping her, Elena found herself increasingly isolated. No money to keep up her fight to stay in New Zealand long enough to get the non-removal order lifted, no money to buy groceries. No work permit. She turned, reluctantly, to prostitution to pay the bills.
‘I hated it. I did not want to do. But how else could I survive? How else could I provide?’

Today, she sells other services.

‘My flatmates discover my cooking and cleaning is so good, they pay me to do all of it.’

With the help of a Russian-speaking lawyer, she’s launched a renewed bid to secure New Zealand residency and, as at the time of writing, she has temporarily wrested back control of her children from Paul Copeland and is helping heal their scars.

‘I got Nicholai back two weeks ago,’ she murmurs. ‘He wakes at night, but I think he will get better. I love him. Once I didn’t want to stay in New Zealand. Now I do.’

The most stunning aspect of the whole story, however, is why on earth a man with Paul Copeland’s psychiatric history, a sexual predator who raped his own sister and tried to murder his wife with a bow and arrow, a man who enjoyed killing cats in the cruellest ways he could find – why such a man would be allowed anywhere near a child by New Zealand’s social workers and psychologists.

For Elena, that is the biggest mystery of all.

*All names except those of Elena Reznikova and Paul Copeland have been changed for privacy purposes


Posted by InvestigateDesign at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2007

Teenage pregnancy: March 07 issue

preggers.jpg

A Brave Story and a Bitter Pill

With teenage pregnancy affecting women since the beginning of time, the choice is ultimately one that is hers to make. But with a new offering of hope and the controversial discussion around the new ‘abortion pill’ RU-486, this is a topic where every angle needs to be discussed. MELODY TOWNS reports


Walking up the corridor, Bernadette moved slowly towards the pink Wendy’s t-shirt that clung to the growing physique of her boyfriend Dave. Dressed in an identical shirt, Bernie and Dave were on their lunchbreak from the ice-cream parlour where they both worked, but there was something different about this break and with each step Bernadette took, she knew that both their lives were about to be changed forever. “I saw him differently”, says Bernadette, “He was a 16 year old boy about to be told he was going to be a father”.

When Bernadette Black was just 16 years old she, like 25,000 other teenage girls in Australia each year, was faced with a decision that would ultimately affect the rest of her life. Raised in a strict middle class Catholic home, Bernadette had always been the ‘good girl’, the girl she describes as “someone that you thought that this could never happen to”. Little did Bernadette realise the consequences of losing her virginity when she slept with her boyfriend for the first time in his bedroom while his parents were out. She says, “I found myself in an emotional pull towards Dave and, as a result, Dave and I had sex. I didn’t think about the repercussions of having sex, like the possibility of falling pregnant. I just assumed it wouldn’t happen to me. So, we had sex and the condom broke…”

Bernadette’s story is not an unusual one. With teenage pregnancy occurring since the beginning of time, this is a story that many women could relate to, despite whatever decision they make regarding their pregnancy. But Bernadette, now 30, has written a book that may surprise many. A story of a teenage mother who decided to have her child and, despite all odds, aim to make a success of her life. While being objective in saying that she is not placing any judgement on any decision that a teenage mother may make, Bernadette says the aim of her story is to present another outcome, one that is positive and has never been offered.

When I meet Bernadette, I am overwhelmed. She bounces up to me, wraps her arms around me and with a big beaming smile welcomes me into the waterfront pavilion where, today, she is getting all the attention for all the right reasons. It is like we are best friends, but we have only just met, the genuineness in her greeting something that seems surreal in the networking world of small smiles and meet-and-greets.

It is her book launch, the day that she has been working towards since she was 16. She is there with her husband, three children, a few politicians and a huge crowd of support. The media flocks around her as she shares her heart with the world and the day that so many thought would never arrive, is unraveling a new story of hope for all to see.

It is just over 12 years since the day that Bernadette made a pact with herself, despite constant criticism, that she would firstly, be a great mum, secondly complete her education and thirdly write a book to offer some hope to other girls who may and who do find themselves in this situation and decide to have their babies.

She was sitting in a mothers’ group when Bernadette conceived her dream that would see her persevere against all odds. “At the group there were many girls that had no support, their parents had disowned them and their partners had left them. These girls literally had no hope. We asked in our mum’s group if there were any books available that would be able to show us that we could be great mums regardless of our age. The nurse who ran this group said that there were no books ever written like this.”

Acknowledging that she did have the support of her family and the stability of a middle class background, Bernadette says she feels most passionate about the girls who may not be so lucky. “The amount of judgemental attitudes that some people displayed to me in society was huge, and I was with my mum and dad, but for these girls all they see is no hope, so thankfully this book and hopefully my website with the collaboration of education and health care will be a resource for them that they haven’t had access to before”.

Despite her success, Bernadette, now a trained nurse, has had to walk the hard road and empathises with other girls in this situation. Endorsing motherhood, but not sugar-coating the reality of it, Bernadette openly shares the way that she had to deal with society’s reactions and their constant disapproval of her. “I was very vulnerable, especially only being 16. I used to keep my head down to avoid people’s prying eyes. I wanted to wear a sign saying that I would be a good mum but it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Leaving room for only the truth, Bernadette describes how she felt at this time in her book. She writes, “I remember shopping at Myers for some foundation, and the shop assistant noticed my growing belly. She looked at me in disgrace saying, “Babies having babies”. I felt so inadequate, so unable, so scared. Who was I kidding?”

Going to a Catholic school and growing up in a Catholic home also proved to be a paradox for Bernadette. Although she had the support of her family, many of her friends couldn’t understand her decision, a decision that she says had a lot to do with her own beliefs. Well-meaning friends told her that she was going to ruin her life and kept asking why she wouldn’t have an abortion? “I fleetingly thought about having an abortion certainly”, says Bernadette, “however after I contemplated it a little longer I thought, “No, I can take this on. I have to take responsibility now to care for this child”, and that’s when I decided I would be a great mother”.

Dave was a great support despite the lack of encouragement he received from his family. Described by Bernadette as being very respectful, Dave supported her choice despite the critics and is still a big part of his son Damien’s life today. She says, “Early on his family had said to him that it would be better if I did have an abortion, and that was a very difficult thing. His mother had said to me that if I made this decision, then both Dave and I would make nothing of our lives and have absolutely nothing to offer our baby. At the time I felt stripped bare, like I had no defence, but I would not compromise my decision”.

Now as a mother, Bernadette says that she understands Dave’s family a little more. As a mother to 13-year-old Damien, Bernadette understands just how frightening it must have been for Dave’s family to have their son come to them and tell them that his girlfriend was going to have a baby. “For them, they’d never seen a girl who had succeeded in having a baby when she was 16; they’d seen a lot of girls that we all see today-their situations around them are often negative and when you only see negative things, then obviously your outlook can also be negative”, explains Bernadette.

“Everyone has their own personal beliefs and stances. To date in Australia, you can find out about pro-life, abortions, adoptions, the mini pill and the ‘abortion pill’ RU-486. One option that has not been presented to young mothers is a story like mine that shows you can be a young mum, continue with your pregnancy, and also have a fantastic, successful life.

With the controversy surrounding RU-486, or the ‘abortion pill’, this is one side of teenage pregnancy that needs to be told. Not political, not religious, just an offering of hope to thousands of girls faced with this life changing decision daily throughout the world. With what seems a relatively “harmless” option to surgical abortion being an issue of continual controversy between Australian politicians, RU-486 is another kind of ‘emergency contraceptive’, that women in the US, Britain, Canada and Sweden have as an option.

While the Australian parliament argues over whether or not this pill should be approved, every mother has a right to know every option that they may choose when faced with the decision of having a baby. While Bernadette’s story is one of the first offerings of hope to teenage mothers who decide to keep their child, the introduction of RU-486, whether you agree with it or not, has side effects that also need to be discussed to mothers in more depth.

An American website, standupgirl.com, offers a resource for young mothers and teenage pregnancies to discuss all aspects of pregnancy from abortion to pro life. In an article posted by one of its members named only as Mary, the ‘abortion pill’ is discussed as being linked with the death of 10 women since it was approved in the year 2000. What many don’t know is that the ‘abortion pill’, is actually two pills. Not as simple as just popping it in your mouth and waiting for it to go away, the first pill, Mifepristone, is taken to kill the tiny foetus and then a few days later, Misoprostol is taken to induce labour and expel the remains. But, as Mary writes, “with two or three visits to the doctor, an ultrasound, and the possible removal of the dead foetus, it’s not private. It’s not just contraception and it’s definitely not harmless”.

A study by Ralph P. Miech MD, PhD, describes the relationship between the drugs and the ten deaths. He states, “The first drug blocks progesterone, the hormone that tells the placenta to provide nutrition and oxygen to the baby. This causes changes to the cervix that allow c. Sordelli to enter the cervical canal. C. Sordelli thrives in the low oxygen environment and derives nutrition from the decaying foetal tissue. Meanwhile, it’s disrupting the immune system, so that even the woman’s body now becomes vulnerable to bacterial attack. Her body cannot fight the bacteria, and c. Sordelli and its toxic wastes spread throughout the body, causing widespread shock and sometimes death”.

Accessible to any woman under seven weeks pregnant in the approved countries, Danco, the leading American distributor of the drug claims that the deaths were not specifically caused by taking these pills. Their argument is that it cannot be proven that the drugs directly cause death, due to the fact that septic shock caused by c. Sordelli is possible in other circumstances including childbirth and menstruation. But the standard of safety still remains a concern, as the cause of death may not be from the pill but from the toxic shock caused by the remaining foetus that is not completely expelled from the uterus.

Describing the abortion pill as a waking nightmare, Mary states that “perhaps worse than all the bodily effects of RU-486 is the psychological effect”. Linked to a higher suicide rate for depressed women, the ‘abortion pill’ leaves no one to clean up the mess except for the mother herself. A horrifying image is presented by abortiontv.com on their website, stating that a “woman may find herself sitting on her bathroom floor at two in the morning cradling her tiny child in her bloody fingers”. While this may be considered extreme, the fact that unlike a surgical abortion where the foetus may be expelled not intact but rather in shreds, is a haunting reminder that this, like any decision regarding teenage pregnancy, or any pregnancy in fact, is something that cannot be taken lightly.

Information regarding all aspects of pregnancy is vital to teenage girls placed in a situation where a decision needs to be made. Without placing judgement on whatever decision they do choose, all information does need to be made aware to them. Whether it is an abortion that they choose to have, an adoption or like Bernadette a decision to have her child, every girl has a right to make an informed choice regarding something that will not only affect her body, but her mind and her life forever.

As Australian celebrity Marcia Hines states in the forward of Bernadette’s book Brave Little Bear, “I do not condone teenage pregnancy, please understand this, but in life things do happen…and it happened to me. Luckily Bernadette and I had support and as with anything in life if you have support and self-belief you’re going to make it. But please don’t make life any harder than it already is, and your teenage life is a gift. (And so is motherhood at the right time). If I could I would not change a thing and I’m sure Bernadette wouldn’t either, but precautionary measures is what it’s all about. However if you do fall pregnant, remember that you are no longer a child, you are taking care of a child.”

In the heat of discussion about RU-486 and the offering of hope from one teenage mum who aims to help others, lets remember that it’s life we are talking about here, and what every girl needs from society is not a judgement but a soft place to fall and the support and self-belief to get back up again, whatever her choice.

Brave Little Bear is being used in the young mothers’ program in Tasmania Australia and is under review by each state’s education department in the school curriculum. With its website, www.bravelittlebear.com.au, a dedicated resource to helping young mothers, Bernadette hopes that the incidence of teenage pregnancy will be reduced, but for now she wants to help the girls who are there walking this journey today. “What I’d like in this country is for these levels, 25,000 teenage pregnancies a year – to decrease. This is like a long term plan, it generations down the future, but what needs to happen to stop that generational cycle is that these girls, as I said before, they might see around them that all there is, is negative feedback, or just their circumstances: if they can grab that light or just that one bit of hope, then their child may not have a child at 16”.

Posted by Ian Wishart at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2007

THE CIVIL UNIONS BILL INVESTIGATE: April 04

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The Civil Union Bill is be-ing promoted as reasonable legislation, to rectify civil rules and regulations that allegedly discriminate against homosexuals and lesbians. Many New Zealanders, including senior politicians from other parties, are supportive, believing that the issue is about recognizing modern diversity and civil rights.
They would be probably unaware that overseas, particularly in Australia and America, certain gay activists and academics are telling gay communities that the real object is a social revolution to destroy the traditional family.

New social structures of marriage will enable sexual expression based on individuals, couples and groups. The latter is called "polyamory".

What’s polyamory? Well, that’s what this story is all about…as BERNARD MORAN reports:

How things change. Not too long ago, the idea of same-sex marriage seemed ridiculous. Now its proponents are on a roll across the western world, and it’s their adversaries, the "homophobic" defenders of traditional marriage, who are struggling to hold back the tide.

In retrospect, human rights legislation provided the essential platform for all that was to come. An end run can be taken around the mass of public disapproval, centuries of history and world-wide practice, through a successful appeal on the grounds of discrimination.

Especially when human rights legislation is amended by Parliament to ban discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.

In April 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin arrived aboard a sealed train at Petrograd station. The epitome of the professional revolutionary, Lenin came armed with a political agenda Marxist Leninism, the will to carry it out, and a strategy to prevail over opposition.

Christchurch MP, Tim Barnett, the architect of the Civil Union Bill and legalised prostitution, arrived in New Zealand in 1991, armed with an agenda and strategy to advance gay rights.

His website profile (found on the web at www.timbarnett.org.nz) and interview in the gay paper Express (10th May, 2001), reveals a consummate, professional social revolutionary.

In his early 20s, Tim Barnett, involved with the British Labour party, worked as a voluntary sector manager, specializing in strategic and project development, marketing and media. From 1982-1989, he was co-organiser and then chairman of the National Association of Volunteer Bureaux.

His key appointment was as the founding Executive Director of the Stonewall (Lobby) Group 1989-1991.

To appreciate the expertise that Tim Barnett brings to the promotion of his Civil Union Bill, we need to take a closer look at what Stonewall represents. But first, here is how Stonewall got its name.

Robert Knight in his 1998 book, The Age of Consent: The Rise of Relativism and the corruption of Popular Culture (Spence Publishing Co, Dallas), writes on page 47:

"In 1969, the Stonewall rebellion signalled the beginning of the official Gay Liberation Movement. A New York bar catering to drag queens and ‘chicken hawks’ (homosexual men who seek underage male partners), the Stonewall Inn was also a haven for drug dealing. When the police began to question some of the patrons on June 27th, 1969, the bar patrons – many of them drag queens – responded by rioting.

"It was the first ‘mass resistance’ against the establishment by homosexuals, and it serves today as their sacred totem, with gay pride parades and numerous rites, held annually on the Stonewall anniversary. Few gay activists, most of whom deny that paedophilia plays any part in the homosexual ‘community’, acknowledge that Stonewall was known as a meeting place for paedophiles."

Investigate readers with PCs can key in www.stonewall.org.uk and see for themselves, how professional and effective Stonewall is in Britain.

Under a "Brief Overview of Stonewall", we read: "Stonewall was founded in 1989 by women and men who had been active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act (more on that later). Their aim was to create a professional lobbying group that would prevent such attacks on lesbians, gay men and bisexuals ever occurring again – and to put the case for equality on the mainstream political agenda, by winning support within all political parties."

"Our lobbying work remains important today, but our activities have expanded considerably. We promote new research (for example on discrimination in the work place, homophobic violence and sex education) and have taken test legal cases that graphically challenge inequality (e.g. on the age of consent and lesbians and gays in the armed forces). We have also successfully mobilized thousands of individuals around the country to campaign on our behalf, most notably in the run up to the votes on the age of consent and Section 28 in Parliament."

Stonewall initiates policy development:

· "carrying out research, publishing briefings and working with government, trade unions, business, NGOs and policy institutions.."

· "Cultural and attitudinal change: challenging the underlying cultural and attitudinal values that allow discrimination to flourish. Changing cultures and attitudes to positively value diversity."

· "Lobbying for legal change: campaigning to ensure legislation is non-discriminatory and that the diversity and value of LGB (gay, lesbian and bi-sexual) life is appropriately recognized in our own laws."

Tim Barnett played a leading role in the bitter fight to repeal Section 28 of the 1982 British Education Act. A detailed account of the struggle was written by Stephen Green, head of the Conservative Party Family Association, in his book The Sexual Dead End (Broad View Books, London, 1992).

Section 28 forbade the promotion of homosexuality during sex education classes in United Kingdom schools.

Green describes (p 348-349) how "The Stonewall Group published a ‘Homosexuality Equality Bill’ based on a manifesto agreed by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the National Council for Civil Liberties. The central aim was the overturning of the idea that lesbian and gay sexuality is unlawful or immoral.

Draft legislation prepared for the Labour Party began by declaring: "That homosexual sex acts, whether between women or between men, are in no way inferior from the standpoint of public morality, or policy, or the public interest, to heterosexual sex acts."

"All three manifestos, the Labour, the Liberal Democrat and the Stonewall, believe that children should be taught in the classroom that homosexuality is equally as valid as heterosexuality."

The manifestos included a new offence of "incitement to hatred (or violence) on the grounds of sexual orientation." This measure would proscribe the ability of Christian churches and other religious faiths, to make public statements, or publicly oppose aspects of the homosexual agenda. More on this later.

Stonewall lobbied hard for the legal age for consent to be lowered to 16. Stephen Green commented that prosecutions would be unlikely for sex with 15 and 14 year-old boys, on the grounds that they would be considered borderline cases, because of the difficulty in proving that the accused knew the boys were underage.

Green writes that although Stonewall was then unsuccessful in repealing Section 28, its ability in public relations and marketing "Proud to be Gay", "transferred any stigma from homosexuals to the bigoted opposition. Homosexuals were no longer sick or perverted. What was sick, was the homophobic opposition to homosexuality."

Commenting on the homosexual agenda, Green wrote: "The homosexual movement simply measures all things, by the standard of whether or not, they promote homosexuality for the homosexual."

In 1991, Tim Barnett and his partner, the Very Reverend Jonathon Kirkpatrick arrived in New Zealand. The Reverend Kirkpatrick had been appointed Dean of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Dunedin.

By 1991, Barnett was working for the AIDS Foundation in Christchurch, then coordinator for the Christchurch Community Law Centre and enjoying rapid progress within the Labour Party: chair of Christchurch Central Electoral Committee, then regional representative on the NZ Council of the Party.

Selected as the Labour candidate for Christchurch Central in August 1995, he became an MP in October 1996. Tim Barnett was soon in positions of power consistent with his Stonewall experience and agenda: Labour Spokesperson on Human Rights, Private Secretary to the Ministry of Justice on human rights issues, Chair of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

For their 10th May, 2001 issue, the gay newspaper Express invited Tim Barnett to outline his objectives for the future. Here are his key points:

· "We will not have a queer-friendly government forever. I believe there is a real urgency to completing the equal-rights agenda, so that moving backwards becomes totally unthinkable and untenable, so that over ensuing generations, attitudes can finally come right."

· "We know much more than most about what Government could do and is doing, and we have the luxury of being full-time stirrers."

· "As queer politicians, our mission is to deliver equal rights under the law, and ensure that the Government machine is working for our community."

Under "unfinished business", Mr Barnett listed his agenda:

· "Recognition of our relationships, offering the same rights that marriage confers (I am currently working on a civil union model).

· "Access to marriage as an additional option to civil union."

· "Comprehensive action to make all our school environments safe for young people coming out as queer. That should include access to counselling, protection from discrimination by staff, or fellow students – and inclusion of relevant studies in the curriculum."

· "Recognition in law of the existence and absolute unacceptability of homophobia (and other forms of hate), as a motivating factor in criminal acts."

Prime Minister Helen Clark told the Express newspaper (21 June, 2001) that although she had not seen a draft of the bill, "I did encourage Tim to take up the issue."

Given the Prime Ministerial green light, Tim Barnett established an advisory group of mainly gay people to develop a concept that would allow homosexual partnerships to be officially registered, without altering the status of marriage.

The group’s proposal applies to heterosexual and gay couples, who would be able to have their relationship registered and acquire similar rights to married couples.

Tim Barnett’s case is cogently argued in a comprehensive backgrounder on his website (www.timbarnett.org.nz). He approaches the issue from a human rights angle:

"In New Zealand, same-sex couples cannot legally get married, or access the rights that come with marriage. When a couple get married, they automatically receive over 100 different statutory entitlements. Because same-sex couples cannot get married, they cannot access these entitlements. This is discrimination."

"Generally, New Zealand’s laws do not recognize the existence of same-sex couples. Same-sex partners are not ‘next of kin’ or ‘family’, according to most of our laws. This can have a devastating impact on people’s lives."

"There are countless stories from all around New Zealand, of people experiencing horrific situations and hardship because of the current relationship laws and their effects. For example, there are many distressing stories of people not being able to see their partner in hospital, because they are not considered to be ‘family’. Because of these effects, it is important that New Zealand’s laws are changed, so that they do recognize the existence of same-sex couples."

"Because same-sex couples cannot legally get married, they do not have the choice of publicly expressing their commitment. The legal effect of this is that same-sex couples are considered ‘legal strangers’, even if they have lived together for twenty or more years. The social effect is that bisexual, lesbian and gay people are treated like second-class citizens, and their relationships are denied the dignity of being socially recognized. This has negative effects upon individuals’ health, self-esteem and relationship stability."

Tim Barnett explains that civil unions will be another form of relationship recognition that exists alongside marriage. "But unlike marriage, civil unions will be available for all couples. Civil unions won’t be based on religion, or other traditional ideas about ‘couples’."

"Civil unions will be a modern relationship model for the 21st century, with a secular (non-religious) basis. What they will mean socially will depend on us – society. We have the challenge of being pioneers and developing social meanings and status around ‘civil unions’."

Married couples have over a hundred statutory entitlements, conferring legal benefits, protections and obligations. De facto couples have over thirty, while same-sex couples have only nine.

According to Tim Barnett, the Government’s approach is to change each law on a case-by-case basis, as it updates old laws. It is "tagging on" relationship recognition to law reform issues like guardianship, adoption and property division. "But this is an unrealistic, inefficient and messy way to give same-sex couples equal rights. There are many minor or trivial laws that they won’t bother to amend just to include same-sex couples."

"What we propose in the Civil Union Bill is to change all the statute books in one go, by saying that every time the words ‘spouse’, ‘wife’, ‘husband’, or ‘de facto couple’ appear, they should be read to include same-sex couples. This will make sure that all the laws comply with the Bill of Rights Act, and the Government isn’t in breach of our human rights in terms of equal treatment. This is an efficient one-step law change that means we won’t have to argue for same-sex inclusion, every time a law is debated in Parliament."

On adoption, Tim Barnett argues that there is no objective data to suggest that same-sex parents are any better or worse than different-sex parents. Most recent, reliable studies have stated that same-sex parents are just as likely to be good parents as different-sex couples are. Under the Bill of Rights Act, the Government would need to demonstrate, using objective data or reasons, how it could justify excluding same-sex couples from adopting. We don’t think that they could."

The problem with Tim Barnett’s "recent, reliable studies", is that most have been carried out by same-sex people and tend to be self-serving. He overlooks the wealth of evidence indicating that fathers and mothers play vital roles in rearing children. Adopted children deserve to have the experience of both a father and a mother.

Example: an in-depth research project carried out in the 1990s, on teenagers reared by lesbian women. They confided to the researchers that they loved their mothers and their partners, but were profoundly disturbed and distressed by their sexual activities. Out of loyalty to their "parents", the children internalized their distress and never spoke of it.

How will couples register their civil union? The only legal requirement will be to sign a register at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and be issued with a certificate.

If couples separate for more than two years, they will be able to dissolve their civil union. The same "divorce rules" will apply as for marriage, meaning that there will be a two-year stand down between separation and dissolution. The Property Relationship Act of 2001, will cover how property is divided between civil union couples, if they separate or one dies.

David Benson-Pope, the new Associate Minister of Justice will introduce the two pieces of legislation into the House. The Civil Unions Bill is modeled on the Marriage Act, but substitutes the words "civil unions" for marriage and covers homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships.

The second, the Legal Recognition of Relationships Bill, will seek to amend 1,000 provisions in some 120 different pieces of legislation. The terms "marriage", "husband" and "wife", will disappear from the statute books and ensure that civil unions will have identical benefits to those who are married.

The stated purpose is to ensure that discrimination based on marital status is eliminated in compliance with the Human Rights Act. A similar right is contained in the NZ Bill of Rights Act.

The question remains that once the areas of discrimination have been eliminated, what happens to the idea of marriage itself.

Maggie Gallagher is the editor of MarriageDebate com and the co-author of "The Case for Marriage". In her article "What Marriage is For", published in The Weekly Standard (4th August, 2003), she writes:

"The problem with endorsing gay marriage is not that it would allow a handful of people to choose alternative family forms, but that it would require society at large to gut marriage of its central presumption about family, in order to accommodate a few adults’ desires."

"The debate over same-sex marriage then, is not some sideline discussion. It is the marriage debate. Either we win – or lose the central meaning of marriage. Same-sex marriage would enshrine in law a public judgment that the desire of adults for families of choice, outweighs the need of children for mothers and fathers. It would give sanction and approval to the creation of motherless or fatherless family as a deliberately chosen ‘good’. It would mean that the law was neutral as to whether children had mothers and fathers. Motherless and fatherless families would be deemed just fine."

"Redefining marriage so that it suits gays and lesbians, requires fundamentally changing our legal, public, and social conception of what marriage is, in ways that threaten its core public purpose."

What lies beyond civil unions and same-sex marriage?

In America, some gay-rights advocates are predicting that civil unions and same-sex marriage, have the scope to completely redefine marriage and its meaning.

For example, Patti Ettelbrick, former leader of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund says: "Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex and sexuality, and in the process transforming the very fabric of society."

Michelangelo Signorile, homosexual activist and writer argues that the goal of homosexuality is to: "fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry, not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes, but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution. The most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake, is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely."

Gay commentator Andrew Sullivan, has said that the "openness" in many gay relationships would in reality fortify heterosexual marriages by allowing straight couples to see that adultery doesn’t necessarily destroy a marriage. Once gay "marriage" is allowed, the faithful nature of traditional unions will be transformed for the better.

Which brings us to the concept of polyamory. Once civil unions and marriage between same-sex couples are legalized, it could be argued that limiting the relationship to two people is discriminatory. Since the procreation and rearing of children by a mother and father, is no longer recognized by the state as a preferred relationship, or for the greater good of society, there is no reason apart from convention to limit the union to two people.

Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard (August 4th, 2003) "Beyond Gay Marriage: the road to polyamory", predicts that marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals, in every conceivable combination of male and female. Polyamory is about group marriage, and already in the United States, a network of grass-roots organizations advocating legal recognition, is being supported by a powerful faction of family law specialists.

"Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada, have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage."

Kurtz says that the modern polyamory movement took off in the mid-nineties, partly because of the growth of the Internet, but also in parallel and inspired by the rising gay marriage movement.

"Unlike classic polygamy, which features one man and several women, polyamory comprises a bewildering variety of sexual combinations. There are triads of one women and two men, heterosexual group marriages, groups in which all members are bisexual, lesbian groups and so forth. (For details, see Deborah Anapol’s "Polyamory: the New Love Without Limits", or look up the word polyamory on Google.)"

The flagship magazine of the polyamory-rights movement is Loving More, which advocates using the gay rights movement as a model.

However, as Kurtz reveals, there is a fundamental problem that just doesn’t seem to go away, and it’s called "jealousy". Apparently, polyamory websites are filled with chatter about jealousy. Inevitably, group marriages based on modern principles of companionate love, without religious rules and restraints, are unstable and children will pay the price.

"Once monogamy is defined out of marriage, it will be next to impossible to educate a new generation in what it takes to keep companionate marriage intact. State-sanctioned polyamory would spell the effective end of marriage. And that is what polyamory"s new and surprisingly influential defenders are aiming for."

"State-sanctioned polyamory is now the cutting-edge issue among scholars of family law. Promoting polyamory is the ideal way to "radically reorder society’s view of the family" says Paula Ettelbrick, policy director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force."

Quoting from a series of law professors, Kurtz notes they believe that legal and social hostility to polygamy and polyamory are decreasing, and that the increased openness of homosexual partnerships is slowly collapsing the taboo against polygamy and polyamory.

Part of the agenda is to render the distinction between traditional marriage and polyamory as "morally neutral".

Canada is further down the track than the USA. In 1997, the Canadian Parliament established the Law Commission of Canada to serve Parliament and the Justice Ministry, as an advisory body on legal reform. In December 2001, the Commission submitted a report entitled "Beyond Conjugality", which hinted at recommending the abolition of marriage. The authors admitted that the Canadian public may not be yet ready for such a step.

Tim Barnett is on record in Express magazine (10th May, 2001) as seeking "recognition in law of the existence and absolute unacceptability of homophobia (and other forms of hate) as a motivating factor in some criminal acts." His passion paid off when the Government adopted ‘hate crime’ provisions into law two years ago.

Canada provides a salutary lesson on what this can lead to when "sexual orientation" becomes part of the Human Rights Act. In the November, 2003 issue of Catholic World Report, there is a feature by John-Henry Westen entitled: "Religious Persecution Next? A new ‘hate crime law’ bars Christians from speaking out against homosexuality."

The Catholic Bishops of Canada were so alarmed by the implications that they issued a public statement: "What troubles us is the possibility that someone who finds the expression of the Catholic Church on sexual conduct too blunt, or too harsh, will invoke the Criminal Code to silence the teaching."

In Ottawa, a leading Catholic priest told a press conference: "Canadians are now seeing their precious country rushing into an era of ruthless religious persecution. They are witnessing their religious rights eroding before their eyes, and see Bill C-250 as the launch pad for a full attack on Canadian religious belief and institutions."

Other priests announced they were willing to go to jail, to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Toronto’s Cardinal Ambrozic warned that with the passing of C-250: "religion will soon need to be protected from the state. You risk your life for an absolute. There are things greater than us, for which we must be ready to die."

Sylvia MackEachern, editor of the Catholic publication the Orator, in a radio interview condemned the new AIDS curriculum intended for Catholic schools. She found herself under investigation by the Ottawa-Carleton Police Hate Crime Unit, and was let off with a caution.

WorldNetDaily carried a report on November 13th, 2003, about the Anglican Bishop of Chester, the Rt.Rev. Peter Forster, who was investigated by the Cheshire police for committing a "hate crime". In an interview with the Chester Chronicle, the Bishop said:

"Some people who are primarily homosexual can re-orientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a specialist on the subject. That is in the area of psychiatric health."

The Times reported the Cheshire Chief Constable Peter Fahy, issued a public rebuke to the Bishop: "All public leaders in Cheshire need to give clear leadership on the issue of diversity."

After consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service, Cheshire police decided that the Bishop hadn’t committed a crime, according to a strict interpretation of the current law.

But this incident does serve as a warning to New Zealand church leaders who might criticize school sex education programmes that treat homosexual activity as equally valid and desirable as heterosexuality.

Prime Minister Helen Clark was interviewed at length by Express (11th February, 2004) and responded to this question:

Is the government worried about the level of homophobia shown by groups of the religious right like the Maxim Institute in New Zealand?

"We legislated against hate crimes. You just have to keep working over a long period of time on several values in society that does not condone that sort of attitude. I understand that over a long period of time, there has been a fundamentalist programme that runs on TV2 on a Sunday morning which is absolutely disgraceful. It is a very small minority point of view – and I think through continuing to set the tone of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, you just have to further marginalize such people. Hopefully one day, nobody will think that way."

Dr Michael Bassett, Minister of Health in the Lange Government and a historian, was interviewed by Leighton Smith on 24th February, 2004. He made this comment about Helen Clark and her inner circle:

"Their formative thinking was in the 1970s, and they have never learnt anything since. They impose their views on the bureaucrats, and they are in politics to force their 1970s views on the populace – and you’d better believe it."

Pope John Paul 11, once observed: "When absolute moral values are abandoned, then democracy becomes a matter of power and will."

But there is a potential solution to the Civil Union standoff: "Next-of-Kin" status.

In the United States, David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, has produced a concept that addresses the legitimate concerns of gay couples, and at the same time defends the traditional status of marriage and family.

Reardon’s proposal would allow any unmarried individual, regardless of sexual lifestyle, to designate the person who should handle their personal affairs, make health decisions when they are incapacitated, and have presumptive rights of visitation and inheritance, etc.

He argues: "A morally legitimate response to the legitimate concerns of homosexuals and other single persons, would be to pass legislation that allows easy designation or registration of a person’s chosen "next of kin", to whom all rights of visitation, power of attorney, etc, would attach. This legal designation of "next of kin", would override default transfer of these rights and duties to the closest blood relation, and thereby allow persons to designate any friend, "roommate", or professional advisor to be their most trusted confidant and beneficiary."

"This ‘next of kin’ designation avoids any insinuation that there is a ‘marriage’, or even a publicly recognized ‘union’ of the individuals. Yet at the same time, it gives single persons the right to establish a ‘family’ connection in a manner that is closely analogous to adoption. One might characterize the ‘next of kin’ designation as the adoption of a brother or sister to whom the legal rights of next-of-kin attach. The law could also provide for ‘next of kin’ certificates and ‘kinship severed’ (divorce) certificates."

Reardon acknowledges that most social engineer and gay activists will hate this solution precisely because it does solve the legitimate concerns of single persons. But by carefully addressing the legitimate problems they do raise, supporters of the traditional family can get out of their purely defensive posture and reframe the debate in ways that advance and protect the legitimate rights of both singles and married persons.

"In a society where families are often broken and dispersed, the right to designate a non-blood relation as ‘next of kin’ is a legitimate concern. When gay activists complain that next of kin designations are not enough, the response should be that they are sufficient to address the legitimate needs of all unmarried persons."



Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

PAWNS IN A GAME, DEC 2004

She was 27 years old. Her Australian-born daughter was only two. They had already suffered much, but at the hands of a New Zealand Judge, a lawyer and an alleged paedophile and drug dealer, they were about to suffer a whole lot more. IAN WISHART has the incredible story of Sharon and Teena, and their fight to survive...

Rotorua is a great little town. A friendly tourist trap with its mud pools and geysers. But it has its secrets as well. Deep, dark secrets. As anyone who was close to a television set earlier this year will recall, the biggest police scandal in New Zealand’s history blew up in sleepy Rotorua of all places, involving allegations of sexual orgies, gang rape, cover-ups and corruption. Allegations so serious that the Government has called a Commission of Inquiry into the claims of several Rotorua women, including Louise Nicholas.

Investigate can throw another similar case into the ring – that of senior Rotorua police officer Evan Jordan (now deceased), whose previous claim to fame came from cheating death in a Zimbabwean air crash in 1990 and selling his video footage of the crash-landing to TV3 and the Readers Digest. What neither media organization realised at the time was that Jordan was a corrupt cop who had a habit of arresting attractive young women on various misdemeanor charges in Rotorua then arranging to drop the prosecutions in exchange for sexual favours. Although eventually prosecuted for rape in Rotorua in the mid nineties, he got off.

Indeed, the allegations that have surfaced this year about Rotorua raise questions about just how far back and how deep the corruption in that city’s law enforcement and justice systems goes. Might it, for example, go all the way back to Christmas, 1976, and the disappearance of Wellington mother of two Heidi Charles, holidaying in Rotorua with her family? Dropped off for a spot of Christmas shopping in the morning, the attractive young blonde never returned to her two boys or her husband. No trace of her was ever discovered. Rotorua police never upgraded her disappearance to homicide, nor did police searches find anything.

The question after all this time might better be phrased, “How hard did they really look?”

And it is the same question that surfaces unanswered in this investigation.

The story that follows contains material that is sometimes graphic. When it is, it is simply because it is relevant to the investigation and needs to be included. What follows is the result of hours of interviews with some of those involved. We now make it clear, for the sake of legal clarity, that this story is not about whether the child at the centre of it all was sexually abused by her father. You will read evidence indicating that this could be the case, but the point was never proven in Court.
And that’s actually what this story is about: did the Family Court and CYF systems fail the child by failing to properly investigate the sexual abuse allegations? In other words, we are not attempting to prove here that sexual abuse definitely took place. We are attempting to show that serious allegations of abuse were not properly investigated, in our view, and ignored by those with the statutory responsibility for protecting the child.
What we don’t understand is why:

When Sharon (all names of family members in this story have been changed), met Michael in Brisbane in July 1989, it seemed at first blush to be a match made in heaven. Both were 24-years-old: she, a vivacious young New Zealander looking to experience the world; he, a dashing Middle Easterner who was trying to forge a new life for himself in Australia after spending two years on secondment to a combat unit in a war-ravaged country. It was a whirlwind romance – the pair married in Brisbane eight weeks later, and Sharon was pregnant with baby Teena soon after.

But according to Sharon, the romantic whirlwind became a hurricane of horror during the pregnancy. Michael’s application for refugee status in Australia had been turned down, and increasingly she felt he was using her as a meal ticket.

“His whole attitude toward me changed, it was like he saw me as property, something he owned rather than someone he loved. By getting married to a Kiwi, he could get a New Zealand passport which meant he could live in Australia and travel internationally without a barrage of questions at every airport.”

Sharon and Michael were living in Australia with Michael’s mother, and she claims he was often violent toward her, becoming passionately angry and frequently threatening her with kitchen knives.

“He would hide behind doors with a knife, wait for me to come through and then leap out and hold the blade to my throat. It terrified me and he seemed to enjoy it.

“His mother just stood there, screaming hysterically at him, but it made no difference. He’d broken her arm once when they lived in London. He was bashing his girlfriend and his mother intervened to try and stop it, and he broke her arm. Michael was very, very violent, and had a Middle Eastern view on male dominance.”

One story Michael told to a number of people is how his father had shot dead one of his sons – Michael’s brother – one night when Michael was eight, because the younger boy, a six year old, was making too much noise. Whether the story is true or not is beyond our ability to prove. However, others remember Michael telling them.

Michael also seemed to be well-acquainted with violence outside the home: during a trip to Sydney soon after their marriage, Sharon says Michael was approached by men with organized crime connections wanting him to carry out a “hit” for $8,000. Sharon says she talked him out of doing the crime, and claims he gloated when a TV news story they were watching one evening showed the Vietnamese man hired to carry out the murder got caught.

“Michael was full of bravado, boasting about how if he’d done it he would have gotten away without being seen,” recalls Sharon.

While the story may seem far-fetched, Michael admitted being approached by the Mafia to the Family Court in New Zealand.

So what other bad habits did this former Middle Eastern gunman have? According to Sharon, he routinely slept with a knife under his pillow. Normal behaviour perhaps in a war zone – but not in Australia or New Zealand.

The colourful and violent background of Michael is only an entrée to this story however, which takes on a life of its own in mid-1992 while the young family was living in New Zealand.

For nearly a year, Michael, Sharon and baby Teena had been living with Sharon’s mother in Rotorua. Sharon’s mother had seen first-hand some of Michael’s behaviour, and had herself challenged him about the knife he kept close by. By March 1992, relations between the couple had become so tense that Sharon was “withholding sexual favours” – a freeze that was to become permanent. In June that year, Michael agreed to let his wife take Teena back to Australia so she could find work there and help pay off some of the family’s mounting debt. Sharon didn’t tell Michael she was planning to leave him at this point, but she maintains her husband was living life as if he was single anyway.
Too much Middle Eastern machismo and a liking for wild oats, she claimed.

By all accounts, and this would later become relevant as you’ll see, Michael had an exceedingly high sex drive, desiring sex several times a day and, again, becoming violent and moody if he didn’t get it. Then again, the moodiness could have been caused by the Middle Easterner’s long-standing cannabis habit – a habit that did nothing to ease the couple’s financial strains.

It was while she was working in Sydney that Sharon plotted her escape, but her plans hit a snag in August 1992 when she fell ill and was told she would need to be hospitalized. Sharon made a decision to make a same-day return flight to New Zealand and drop Teena into her mother’s care so she could return to Sydney for treatment without having to worry about childcare for her daughter. While Teena was in her grandmother’s care, Michael had what family would later describe as “liberal” access to his daughter.

Speaking now, twelve years after it happened, the events that followed remain a raw wound for Sharon. It is a rambling interview: so much to tell, so little time, if one can call a couple of weeks just a “little time”. But she’s right – trying to concertina years of trauma, enough to fill 10 Eastlight files of documents – into two weeks’ worth of interviews is traumatic in and of itself.

Sharon has nothing to gain from this. Her case in the Family Court ended years ago. She ultimately got the justice she was seeking. However, the story of what happened to Teena and Sharon, and the way they were treated by the judicial and child protection systems in Rotorua/Bay of Plenty raises such serious matters of public interest that Sharon feels compelled to lift the lid on it publicly for the first time.


November 1, 1992, was a Sunday. And as the Boeing 747 lined up for its final approach to Auckland’s Jean Batten Airport, Sharon could already feel the knots rising in her stomach – and they had nothing to do with the impending touchdown. Sharon had come to pick up her daughter, tell her husband their marriage was over, and return to Australia. Michael, however, already knew this. He’d sought an ex-parté court hearing to grant himself interim custody of Teena, and to prevent his estranged wife from taking the girl with her. Teena was less than two and a half years old at this point.

The first Sharon knew of the secret court hearing was when she was slapped with a court order on Monday November 2, telling her Australian-born Teena was to remain in New Zealand. The Court had also declared that Teena should remain in the custody of Sharon’s mother, whom she’d been staying with.

Mother and daughter had two short weeks together before Sharon returned to her job in Sydney mid-November, hoping to save up enough to provide for her daughter when she was next scheduled to return in February 1993. Sharon was hoping the custody issue would have been decided by then.
Unbeknownst to Sharon, however, the situation was about to take a sinister turn.

On Friday December 4, 1992, Michael had picked up Teena from her grandmother for a three hour access visit. The child returned off-colour, not settling until close to midnight. By morning, she was suffering an extreme bout of diarrhea.

Saturday 5 December: Teena is taken for another three hour session by her father. Soon after her return, Sharon’s mother notices Teena had what she thought were wet pants. On taking them off, she discovered a sticky substance that appeared to be semen, “stretching all the way from the back of the crutch up to the rear waistband.”
Sickened, and feeling her stomach churn, she rang her two sons to seek a second opinion. Their verdict on seeing the substance in the underpants: “It’s definitely semen, Mum. You have to take Teena to see a doctor, straight away.”

Placing the stained underpants in a plastic bag, Sharon’s mother and one of her sons drove the child to the local A&E clinic which, being a Saturday night, was full. When they eventually got in to see him, the doctor performed what will later be described as a “cursory” vaginal examination before saying, “No sign of vaginal trauma,” and telling them the discharge is probably related to the diarrhea.

“Take a look at the underpants, I’ve got them here,” volunteered the grandmother.

“No, that won’t be necessary,” the doctor twice indicated with a dismissive wave of his hand. He performed no rectal examination of baby Teena.

Unsatisfied, but lacking the hard evidence that she presumed the doctor’s visit would provide, the grandmother could only fire a warning shot across Michael’s bows when he returned on Sunday afternoon to pick up Teena for another visit. She told him she wasn’t happy at what she’d discovered in Teena’s pants, and that he’d better keep the child safe. Michael said nothing, but when he returned at 7pm the next evening he was secretly wearing a tape recorder. It was Monday, December 7.

The grandmother, meanwhile, rang her lawyer to seek advice. She told her to get in contact with the man who had the statutory responsibility of protecting Teena – lawyer John Chadwick, who’d been appointed Counsel for the Child (CFC) in the legal proceedings begun back in November. It is routine in Family Court cases for an independent lawyer to be appointed to represent the child’s interests. John Chadwick, a colourful local Rotorua barrister, is the husband of Labour MP Steve (Stephanie) Chadwick, the Chairwoman of Parliament’s Health Select Committee. Both have been active in Labour Party affairs, and were instrumental in setting up Rotorua’s first Women’s Refuge in 1996.

“Counsel for the Child will look after Teena,” the grandmother’s lawyer reassured. “He’ll instantly stop access while this is investigated. You need to bring this to his attention.”
Sharon’s mother arranged to see John Chadwick the next morning, but events were quickly turning to custard. When Michael turned up on Monday evening, Sharon’s brother Toby couldn’t hold back his anger and began punching Michael. As the police transcript would later reveal, it was a brutal encounter.

“I didn’t enter the house,” Michael told police. “Toby, my brother-in-law, came to the door. Toby snatched Teena off me; I put my head inside the house and said to my mother-in-law, “I’ll pick her up tomorrow”. Toby stepped outside the house and said to me, ‘You’ll be f***en lucky’.

“I replied, ‘What do you mean?’ Toby answered, ‘What did I see in her f***en pants the other day, mate? What did I see in Teena’s pants the other day? I saw something that only big boys f***en excrete, mate!’

“While he was saying this he was standing over me trying to intimidate me. I had no idea what he was talking about….then Toby punched me in the right hand side of my chest and said, ‘You should f*** off back to where you came from, boy, before I cut your f***en throat. I know what you’ve been doing.’

“I started walking backwards towards my car. Toby followed me and said, ‘I know what you’ve been f***en doing boy, if you get away with it I’m going to come back and f***en hammer you alright’. That’s when he punched me again, hitting me on the right shoulder this time.

“I got into my car and as I was getting into the driver’s seat he leaned in and shoved me so hard that I ended up on the other side of the car.”
Michael fled, but returned the next morning, Tuesday 8th, for his scheduled full day of access, and uplifted Teena.

It is here that Investigate makes the first serious allegation. On the basis of the evidence our magazine has uncovered, we believe John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child, not only failed to act in the best interests of baby Teena but deliberately acted in a way that was at least reckless and at worst may have been seriously harmful to her safety. We believe Chadwick neglected his duty not only as CFC, but as a lawyer and a human being. We believe Chadwick should immediately be suspended from acting as Counsel for Child in any other case, if not suspended from practice entirely, pending a full investigation of his behaviour in this one.
And here’s why we believe all this:

Unbeknownst to the grandmother, Michael hot-footed it first to his own lawyer, Jan Walker, with the tape recording of his mugging and the claims of sexual abuse being made by Toby during the assault.

Jan Walker is one half of the Rotorua lawfirm of Walker & Elliott. The New Zealand Law Society’s website notes that Jan Walker is exceptionally “well-connected to the current Government”, which is why the NZLS co-opted Walker to one of its main committees. Walker is indeed “well-connected”. This otherwise obscure Rotorua lawyer from a tiny legal practice was appointed Chairwoman of the Government’s Casino Control Authority. Nor is Walker’s partner any slouch. Claudia Elliott is “a staunch Labour Party activist” according to one source, “and a radical feminist”. Indeed, the lawfirm of Walker and Elliott has been truly blessed by the reigning sisterhood in the Beehive. Not only did Walker get a taxpayer-funded position, so did Elliott, as President of the Film and Literature Review Board, whose task it is to make censorship decisions. Investigate understands both lawyers are lesbian, and also staunch left wingers. This may seem irrelevant to a child protection case – and normally it would be – but for Sharon and Teena, it represents an important subtext. For while the husband was being represented by a very well-connected, liberal, Labour party lawfirm, and Counsel for the Child was himself “a staunch Labour party activist” and liberal, the wife was a Pentecostal Christian. And in a case where parents and their attitudes are examined in minute detail, it would only be a matter of time before the worldviews of these polar opposites collided.

Walker and Elliott recommended Michael see John Chadwick immediately. So by the time Sharon’s mother rang to allege sexual abuse on Tuesday 8th, John Chadwick was already primed.

“There’s no way Michael has to tolerate that sort of abuse from your family, and I want you to know the police have now been called and are out looking for your son,” he ranted.

“I’ve told Michael to disregard the Court order requiring Teena to remain in your care. I think it is better for Teena that she lives with her father, and I’ve told him not to return Teena to you.”

Sharon’s mother was flabbergasted. Here was the lawyer, appointed by the Family Court to protect her granddaughter, pointedly ignoring the references to sexual abuse and semen stains on the tape that Michael had played to him – in her view not even bothering to seriously investigate them or even pause for half a minute to consider them. Nor was he prepared to listen to the grandmother’s allegations.

“I’ve told Michael to take Teena to a doctor himself,” Chadwick said.
New Zealand’s child protection guidelines are adamant that the safety of the child is paramount in cases where sexual abuse is alleged. In all such cases, CYF investigators and the Court are required to take protective action first and sort out the truth of the claims second. It is hard to see how, after hearing that semen had allegedly been discovered in a child’s underpants, the Court-appointed Counsel for the Child could take the almost unprecedented step of actually removing the child from safe care – the grandmother – and placing her with the man who allegedly abused her. And this before any investigation had been carried out!

To further illustrate just how irregular this was, consider this: under the existing Court order dating back to early November, baby Teena was required by order of the Court to reside with her grandmother. Had Chadwick approached the Court to alter this order? No. Not yet.

It is even more unbelievable that Chadwick would allow the alleged sexual abuse perpetrator to control when and how a medical examination for sexual abuse was conducted. After all, leaving aside the issue of whether abuse actually took place, clearly the evidence could be tainted if an abuser was able to remove critical evidence by bathing. How could Chadwick control that? Obviously he couldn’t, and if he didn’t realise that, he’s incompetent. And if he did realise it was a risk then his actions run close, in Investigate’s opinion, to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

With the doctor not wanting to examine the underpants, and Counsel for the Child clearly not sympathetic, the grandmother made a decision she now regrets. She put the pants in the laundry.

Michael, meanwhile, had raced in to see CYF and tell his side of the story, as Chadwick had advised him to do.

It was after this, with events clearly escalating, that the grandmother finally called Sharon in Australia and told her of the sexual abuse. “You’d better come home straight away.” Why did she wait four days before telling her daughter? Sharon’s mother thought she could handle it herself, but John Chadwick’s stunning decision to change the Court order without authority left the grandmother with no choice but to advise Sharon, who promptly rang Chadwick from Sydney.

“The abuse allegations are rubbish!” Chadwick retorted. “Your husband is not a child molester.”

A frenzied Sharon naturally wanted to know what the lawyer and Labour Party activist was doing to investigate whether or not her daughter had, in fact, been abused. According to Sharon, Chadwick was evasive and vague, saying he’d referred the issue to CYF.

Documents contained in a massive complaint to the Law Society about Chadwick contain the full sequence of events.
It is clear that Chadwick had well and truly been placed on notice about semen in the underpants and the sexual abuse allegations by December 8. He made his decision to grant effective custody in favour of the alleged sexual abuser in full knowledge that sexual abuse allegations had just been made because he’d listened to the tape Michael had provided.

Despite the specific claims of seminal fluid being present, however, here is what Chadwick puts on the record for his file note to the Family Court on December 9 explaining why he had unilaterally altered the Court order in regard to custody:

“Last week the child was returned to the grandmother by the father after access. The child had a tummy complaint, had been wetting her pants and appeared to have diarrhea. Upon inspection the grandmother noticed a whitish substance in the underpants of the child, became suspicious about it, took the child to a doctor who made an examination and did not report anything back to worry about.”

The astute reader will notice that “seminal fluid” described by eyewitnesses was instead referred to here by Chadwick as a “whitish substance” in the context of diarrhea. And what about the visit to a Doctor by the father to have the child medically examined?

“As to the examination of the child I have consulted with a host of experts. Because of the uncertainty of the allegation it was deemed that the child should not be put through what might become a succession of medical examinations (thus compounding the trauma to the child) and instead the matter should be dealt with by way of the Care and Protection Unit as DSW which would proceed by way of a Social Worker being assigned to gather statements from the parties, such information being assessed and then a decision would be made as to whether a diagnostic interview would follow, and/or a medical examination.”

In other words, suddenly, there was to be no medical examination at all. No forensic test to see whether two and a half year old Teena had indeed been raped. Surely an experienced and independent family court lawyer would know the importance of forensic evidence in sexual abuse cases?

“The air needs to be cleared regarding the allegation and that is now being attended to,” Chadwick wrote in his backside-covering file note. “In arriving at that decision I have spoken to Dr McMenamin, Dr J Morreau, Maria Oliver (Manager of the Child Abuse Unit at Rotorua Hospital), Sue Henderson (Psychologist at DSW) and Kaye Fordham (head of the Unit at DSW)…the family are ganging up on the father and will resort to anything,” he added as a throwaway line.

It was, Sharon now claims, a set-up. When she told Chadwick she was heading back to New Zealand immediately, the lawyer took a new tack after hanging up the phone.

“This matter has degenerated, requiring Counsel for the Child to take action at short notice,” he diarised to the Court. “Essentially what I have done is sanctioned the removal of the child from the home of the grandmother into the day-to-day care of the Applicant father as of 8 December [the previous day].

“My immediate concern now is when the mother of the child returns on Saturday…I can already foresee the potential for a tug-of-war in which she is liable to retain the child and refuse to return her to the father.

“It is for that reason that I seek an urgent amendment to the present Interim Custody Order to provide that the child reside with the Applicant father until further Order of the Court.
In my view such an amendment to the Order is in the interests and welfare of the child.”

Meanwhile, Sharon’s lawyers at Rotorua firm Dennet Olphert Sandford & Dowthwaite were furiously faxing all and sundry to find out why the existing Court Order was not being followed.

“Included in these proceedings is reference to the grandmother’s and Sharon’s extreme concern over the possibility that the child has been the subject of sexual abuse while in the care of the father…our client urgently requires all steps taken to protect the child from any possible position of danger until the fears of the grandmother in particular as a result of her observations are investigated by appropriate medical professionals. We do not consider that it is at all acceptable or appropriate for Michael to accompany or refer the child for investigation in respect of this complaint…In disobeying the Court Order we take the view that Michael is in contempt of Court.”

Chadwick soon responded.

“I have your letter of 9/12/92…I confirm that I am Counsel for the Child. You should understand that Michael is not in breach of the Court Order. He retained the child on my advice and if anyone is in breach it is perhaps me. However, that is my cross to bear. In the circumstances, I made the decision and I have already filed a full report to the Court on why.

“The grandmother has not made an allegation of sexual abuse against the father. She has had the opportunity to do that to me at least three times in the last 48 hours. At best she has a suspicion. That does not seem to have prevented your client [Sharon] from telephoning me from Sydney to make an allegation. Neither has it prevented your client’s brother Toby from making a blatant allegation and assaulting the father in the process and then telephoning me twice at home to justify his actions which are now a police matter.”

Who, exactly, was Counsel for the Child John Chadwick acting for in this dispute? Teena? Or her father? And Chadwick was clearly being disingenuous in claiming that the grandmother had not made an allegation of sexual abuse. After all, his own report to the Court on December 9 made it clear that sexual abuse was the card on the table:

“Upon returning the child he was confronted by Toby…threatened, assaulted and accused of sexually abusing his daughter…outraged at the allegation of sexual abuse.”

Toby, like the grandmother, was a primary witness to the same evidence that grandmother had seen. Toby was the one who actually confirmed his mother’s suspicions when he told her the substance in the underpants was definitely seminal fluid. Toby’s allegations of sexual abuse were as first-hand as the one Chadwick claimed he lacked from the grandmother to this point. His denial in the letter to Sharon’s lawyers appears to be nothing more than game-playing – a misleading diversion.

In the complaint to the Law Society about Chadwick is an affidavit sworn by Sharon’s mother on December 9. The affidavit details the events of the preceding four days, describes clearly the discovery of semen, the fears of sexual abuse, and Chadwick’s unilateral action to give the child directly to the father regardless. That affidavit was served on Chadwick by Sharon’s lawyers, just to make it abundantly clear: the grandmother feared sexual abuse by the father and had found evidence of it.

Meanwhile the war of the faxes continued. On December 11, Chadwick wrote to Sharon’s lawyers: “There are times when Counsel for the Child has to act decisively. I am comfortable with my decision. I am not going to reverse my decision.”
Chadwick again added that he had “discussed the matter with Sue Henderson and Kay Fordham [at the Social Welfare Department’s CYF unit] who agreed to deal with the matter forthwith and they will be reporting to me. Michael has already been interviewed and while the grandmother is still to be interviewed [our emphasis] I am confident that the suspicion or allegation against Michael has no basis.”

Again, another stunning admission from John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child. Before CYF staff had even interviewed any of the primary witnesses to the semen, Chadwick said the allegation had “no basis”. Little wonder the Sharon and the grandmother came to believe very early on in that they were being jumped all over by a kangaroo court. And don’t forget, John Chadwick is a prominent Labour Party activist, married to a prominent Labour MP whose parliamentary webpage talks of her track record in protecting women and children; the political connections in this case are fascinating.

Sharon’s lawyers hit back. “We do not accept that Counsel for the Child has authority to permit breach of Court orders.”
Chadwick’s next step was intriguing. That same day, Friday December 11, he filed an ex parté application to the Family Court to ratify the action he’d already taken in breaking the Court Order, requesting a new directive: “Until further Order of the Court the child is to reside with the applicant father Michael.” Remember that the mother, Sharon, was arriving in the country the following day.

Nowhere in Chadwick’s six-paragraph application was reference made anywhere to the claims of sexual abuse. Nowhere. John Chadwick is an intelligent man. Presumably his decision to omit any reference to the alleged semen-stained underwear and sexual abuse was deliberate, rather than accidental. He was, after all, the man with the statutory responsibility to look after Teena’s safety and best interests. He could, and probably will, argue that the issue was touched on in previous correspondence to the Court. But for that matter, so were other aspects in the application.

When Sharon arrived in Rotorua she immediately made an appointment to see John Chadwick on Monday December 14. According to Sharon, he assured her he’d informed the appropriate authorities and the sexual abuse allegation was being treated seriously. As we now know from the documents, it wasn’t.

There is also considerable dispute over exactly what Chadwick told CYF psychologist Sue Henderson about the circumstances of the case. Sharon arranged to see Henderson later on that Monday. But Henderson seemed bemused at the idea of a medical examination for Teena.

“Why would we do a medical examination?” she asked. “Bedwetting is not serious enough to be taken as proof of sexual abuse.”
Sharon hit the roof.

“Bedwetting?! My mother found semen stains in my daughter’s panties. Who told you it was only ‘bedwetting’?”

“John Chadwick. Under those circumstances, we didn’t see any reason to interview Teena or get her examined”.

Sharon discovered that Chadwick had told CYF worker Ioli Nathan of a sexual abuse allegation on December 9, but that “seminal fluid” did not appear to have been discussed. Nor had Chadwick provided CYF with a copy of the grandmother’s December 9 affidavit detailing what she’d found. Little wonder that CYF thought they were simply dealing with just another over-reactive mother.

Sharon went back to her lawyers, grabbed a copy of her mother’s affidavit and gave it to Sue Henderson.
There was an immediate change in CYF’s attitude. Henderson told Sharon she wanted to see Teena “as soon as possible” for a diagnostic interview to determine the possibility of sexual abuse.

Chadwick, meanwhile, remained in a state of denial, telling Sharon’s lawyers, “I spoke to Sue Henderson today and she expressed surprise that Teena was to be interviewed by her today. She said she had not made any arrangements for such an interview and she said that she was not intending to interview the child.”
For the first time, the situation began to spin out of Chadwick’s control. The Counsel for the Child was well and truly behind the eight-ball.

As Sharon laid it out to the Law Society, “I firmly believe Mr Chadwick orchestrated an impression with key parties that he had taken the appropriate steps as Counsel for the Child to ensure Teena was examined…he…mislead and minimized the situation and presented a ‘bedwetting’ scenario to Sue Henderson anticipating, correctly, that nothing would proceed by way of a diagnostic interview.

“Over this period, time was of essence and the opportunity to obtain physical evidence was diminishing daily. Once NZCYPS staff were apprised of the situation following presentation of my mother’s affidavit they took immediate action to protect Teena via a Place of Safety Warrant. As a result, Teena was returned to me that day, December 18, 1992.

“Sue Henderson [was the one who] organized for Dr Morreau, Paediatrician, to carry out an examination of Teena, not Mr Chadwick. This was done 17 days after the alleged abuse incident.”

Henderson, despite Chadwick’s intimations, moved rapidly to assess Teena’s case for herself. After reading the affidavit she interviewed both mother and grandmother – digging further for any other signs that may indicate abuse. The grandmother noted inappropriate behaviour by the little girl, such as pulling up her shirt and rubbing her body against other family members when they were lying on the floor watching TV. Toby also mentioned that Teena had often tried to unzip his fly.
Taken together, said Henderson, “these are not typical behaviours for a two-year-old. I consider that this information raises concerns that Teena may have been sexually abused. I don’t think it is at all appropriate and it is possibly unsafe for her to be in her father’s care until these matters can be clarified.”

Henderson’s report was used as the basis to uplift Teena to a place of safety, and seek a full examination.

So there it was. Finally, nearly three weeks after the alleged seminal fluid was found, Teena was properly medically-examined for the first time. She was, as you’ll recall, only two-and-a-half years old.

But by now the evidence of any abuse, if it occurred 17 days earlier, was long gone. Dr Morreau did discover engorged anal veins and could not rule out sexual abuse. But nor could he rule it in. Result: inconclusive. It should be noted that anal injuries in children can heal as quickly as four days after an event.

Although swabs were taken, any semen, if it had been there, had well and truly vanished by this point.

The Place of Safety Warrant meant that CYF effectively took legal custody of Teena for the duration of the Warrant. CYF chose to place the child with her mother, although Family Court judge Philip Evans overturned this ruling only days later. Nonetheless, the safety period was long enough to get the child examined, in defiance of Chadwick’s interference.

Morreau had examined Teena on December 22, but his report was not delivered to John Chadwick until the afternoon of Friday, January 15, 1993. Teena was with her mother that day and, as Sharon records in her Law Society complaint, the little girl had a normal bowel motion on the morning of Saturday, January 16, before her father collected her for his weekend access.

On Monday morning, driving through town, Sharon saw her husband’s car parked outside Chadwick’s office. Her husband subsequently drove Teena to a doctor where he said the child was extremely constipated and needed medicine to loosen her bowels. The doctor also gave the father some cream to apply to the child’s anus. As Sharon remarked later, Michael had only had Teena for 48 hours – not long enough to become aware of “a serious constipation issue”. And why, wondered Sharon, did this sudden visit to a doctor come straight after a meeting with Chadwick?

Chadwick had a copy of the paediatrician’s report in his hands. In fact, he was probably the only one with the report at that stage. In her Law Society complaint Sharon believes – but has absolutely no proof - Chadwick leaked details of the report to the father, which prompted the father to try and set up a “constipation alibi” to explain engorged anal veins. She knew her daughter was not constipated. The anal cream prescription would provide good cover, she said, for claims that “Daddy touched my bottie”.
And there were certainly plenty of those claims surfacing now.

At just on two-and-a-half, and with a limited vocabulary and even shorter attention span, Teena would not have been a good candidate for parental coaching. As most parents know, trying to get a child that age to repeat something consistently quickly turns into a frustrating game of Chinese Whispers. So it was the child’s actions that initially spoke louder than words.

When CYF psychologist Sue Henderson began “play therapy” sessions – in which a child’s play and comments are closely observed – with Teena late in 1993, it quickly became apparent to Henderson that some kind of abuse had taken place. Teena’s play with dolls focused on a game where a man touched the doll’s genitals and “made it sore”. Teena told Henderson she was scared the doll would be killed. She talked of “monsters” that “hurt me”. Although the little girl never named a specific abuser (leading Henderson to note on her file “there is no specific disclosure of sexual abuse”), Henderson felt sufficiently convinced after only four of the scheduled 12 sessions that Teena’s play was “consistent with that of a child who has been sexually abused”, and that the references to “bottie sore” while pointing to the doll’s vagina were indicative of vaginal trauma.

Henderson was sufficiently concerned at the lack of interest by Counsel for the Child in the sexual abuse allegations that she supported efforts to have Chadwick removed from the case.

Here another irregularity in the case surfaces. Henderson was later interviewed by prominent forensic psychologist Gail Ratcliffe. Henderson confirmed to her that, “There have been problems in handling this case from day one. I will never understand what happened in this case. I certainly had concerns from the start. I asked the Court to appoint another Counsel for Child because I did not feel that he was acting in her best interests. That letter should be in the CYPS file. After conducting play therapy with Teena I was extremely concerned for her safety. No name came out but her play is highly consistent with the traumatic play of sexually abused children. I have no doubts about the abuse. I wrote to the Counsel for Child.”

Yet when the case finally came to trial in late 1993, CYF psychologist Sue Henderson was not allowed to testify as a witness. In fact, as Sharon argues it today, she believes John Chadwick and Family Court judge Philip Evans conspired to block her.

Compare the childish language recorded by both Sharon and Henderson, with a bizarre claim from Michael in February 1993, where he testified in evidence that he’d been driving with Teena in his car when the child (still only two and a half at that point) suddenly said “Roger (pseudonym) f***ed me up the ass”.

Apparently working from the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” school, Michael not only corroborated claims that his daughter was making sexualized statements, but in one fell swoop dropped his flatmate in the mix as the potential abuser.

The first hurdle to credibility of his core claim, however, is convincing people that a two- and-a-half year old girl who still says “bottie” would suddenly turn around and use the kind of graphic language normally heard in a pub.

The second hurdle for Michael is even more difficult. If he’s not telling the truth, then he’s lying. But if it’s a lie, it’s a bad one because he can no longer deny Sharon’s claims that the child is using sexualized language. At this point, both parents are reporting evidence of potential abuse, regardless of who they point the finger at.

Sharon herself did not appear to understand the significance of Michael’s admission. Instead of embracing Michael’s statement and using it as a lever to get the sexual abuse issue properly investigated, Sharon’s reaction was more of a standard kneejerk to Michael’s claim that she must have coached her daughter to say “f***ed up the ass”:

“Teena does not use this language when she is in my care. I have never heard her use such words. I have heard her saying ‘bitch’ and ‘bugger off’ upon returning from Roger’s and Michael’s place. She has been reprimanded for this and has not said it again in my presence. I have never heard Teena use the word ‘f***ed’. She has never talked like that to me. Teena only uses words and sentences she understands. I believe Michael has made this up.”

Indeed, nowhere else in the whole case is Teena ever said to have used the word.

Opportunity lost, the custody dispute dragged on.

Sharon was on legal aid, but by October 1993 she’d exceeded her $20,000 legal aid budget. Her lawfirm, Dennet Olphert Sandford & Dowthwaite, walked out on her just before the trial, leaving the 27-year-old solo mother flying blind and up against not just her husband’s legal team but a hostile judge and Counsel for the Child.

Is it ethical for a lawfirm to simply pull the plug before a trial and leave a client to swim? Apparently so, which is perhaps an issue the New Zealand Law Society needs to examine more closely in terms of a revamp of its code of ethics – should lawyers have a legal responsibility to finish a job they start; should lawyers be prevented from charging by the hour and required to charge by the case? After all, the vast bulk of complaints to the media about lawyers involve counsel who charge by the hour at full rate on minutiae – even when it’s a low-paid legal assistant actually licking the stamps or making calls - sucking the client dry of funds so they’re left with no cash to actually go to court.

Meanwhile Sharon says she asked for an adjournment so she could seek new legal counsel, but Judge Evans refused. As lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown later told Investigate: “You can quote me on this – she should never have been left to handle her own case alone for four days. It’s hard enough for us lawyers to cross-examine experts.”
But left alone she was, and the Court had a field-day stitching her up.

The legal battle Sharon was facing was simple: her ex-husband Michael was pushing to gain full custody of Teena – effectively locking Sharon out of the child’s life in a significant way that left her unable to protect the girl from the risk of further sexual abuse, if Michael was indeed the perpetrator.

The custody battle was fought out in two court hearings in late 1993. In the first decision, handed down in August, Judge Evans ruled that sexual abuse had not been proven. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. But the real question is, would sexual abuse have been proven if Counsel for the Child John Chadwick had done his job differently?

The Judge also made basic fundamental errors in his judgment. For example, he wrote, “The mother today says it was 17 days until the child was examined, but Mr Chadwick elicited in cross examination that in fact the grandmother took the child to a doctor at the hospital within 24 hours and that doctor found no evidence of abuse.”

As readers will already know, the doctor concerned conducted no rectal examination and did not inspect the underwear with the alleged semen stains. Of course the doctor found “no evidence of abuse” – he didn’t conduct a complete examination.

Judge Evans continues: “In the event, the maternal grandmother allegedly then washed the panties and the evidence allegedly was removed. That of course in itself is a surprising action in the circumstances.”

As Sharon sees it, which is more surprising: the actions of a stressed grandmother who felt no-one wanted to know, or the failure of Counsel for the Child to request an immediate medical examination when first presented with the allegation?

Two of Sharon’s friends, both members of a large Christian Church in Rotorua, testified about separate occasions where Teena had talked about her bottom being sore. One woman said she was visiting on June 7 1993, when Teena (still less than three years old at this point) said “Daddy hurt me”. When asked how, Teena replied, “He poked a hole in my bottie”.

The second woman said she was called in by Sharon on July 20 when Teena began complaining about a “sore bottie” and suggesting “Daddy poked his diddle in it”. The second woman prayed for the child to be protected – an action that earnt the scorn of Judge Evans who said that praying in front of the child “must cause the Court considerable concern”.
Judge Evans dropped another clanger, concluding: “Sharon’s allegations are unsupported as to anal penetration by the medical evidence.”

Again, would they have been unsupported if a medical examination had taken place straight away on the instructions of Counsel for the Child John Chadwick?

In hearing number two, in late October 1993, Judge Evans struck out Sharon’s bid to call Sue Henderson as a witness. Evidence from the first official investigation into the sex abuse claims was ruled out of bounds. As we’ve already seen, Henderson was convinced sexual abuse had occurred. The Court was not allowed to hear her say it.
Instead, the first witness was one of Sharon’s two church friends. And practically the first question from Michael’s lawyer, Jan Walker, is directed at the church both women attended.

“Is it fair to say that it is not one of the mainstream denomination churches?” quizzed Miss Walker. The witness explained to the hostile lawyer that Pentecostalism is mainstream Christianity.

Walker, Chadwick and the Judge all directed a considerable number of questions to various witnesses about their links to their church, with one of the lawyers describing it as “chilling”.

And when the lawyers weren’t making sinister implications about Sharon’s faith, they were laying traps for her. In one instance Chadwick was cross-examining Sharon on the semen in the underpants issue for several minutes until Judge Evans interrupted from the bench, eyeballing Sharon: “Can I issue this warning to you: you repeatedly when under pressure in cross-examination start talking as though you were present at things when patently you were not!”

“I’m sorry,” answered Sharon. “Mr Chadwick was asking, I thought I had to answer him.”

As an experienced lawyer, Chadwick knew he was asking the witness about an event she was not privy to.

Judge Evans lashed out at Sharon again just a few minutes later, telling her in effect to drop her case. “Is this battle going to go on indefinitely?...Answer the question, face up to reality!”

“It could go on; I just want her protected from what is going on.”

“Have you any concerns at all about the constant involvement of all sorts of professionals in your child’s life…all the physical exams?”

“She only had one exploratory exam.”

“Are you saying to me that you have no concerns?”

“I am concerned. I’m concerned for the whole thing, the way the paediatrician didn’t look at her until 17 days after –”

“I don’t want to get onto that topic again,” snapped the Judge. First rule of the courtroom: never ask a question you don’t want the answer to.
And yet, it appears Judge Evans was being deliberately selective. In the earlier hearing he had called for a diagnostic assessment of Teena by the CYF Manuwai unit in Hamilton.

That report was available to the Court and records:

“Teena spontaneously picked up a baby doll and undressed it. She made the comment ‘her bottie’s sore’ as she did this, and said she’s have to take the doll to the doctor. When asked what made the bottie sore she replied ‘Daddy’, but provided no clarification, context or detail for this remark. She named monsters as scary people and then said that this was Daddy, but she did not elaborate on this comment and no conclusions can be made from it.

“During the second part of the interview Teena named ‘diddle’ for penis when looking at a picture about bath time…when leaving the room a little later she was holding a doll and said that Daddy had ‘poked the bottom’ with his diddle. Again, she would not be drawn into elaborating on this comment…making it difficult to draw conclusions.

“In my experience,” analyst Karen Wilson wrote, “the type of language Teena is reported to have used…is consistent with the types of expressions young children do use to describe sexual activity they don’t understand. However, it is difficult at this late stage to interpret Teena’s original comments in isolation from more recent questioning she has had. Unfortunately, Teena is too young developmentally to interview effectively using a diagnostic format, it is therefore not possible to adequately assess her safety through this method and a definitive answer as to whether she has been abused is not possible.

“One option for the Court to consider would be extended play therapy for Teena with a child psychotherapist or psychologist, which could focus on general issues rather than sexual abuse. Further assessment in this way may resolve the issue of whether abuse has occurred.

“In my opinion, unsupervised access would leave all parties vulnerable until such time as Teena is old enough to be fully assessed through a diagnostic process.”

Several things emerged from that report. Firstly, the three year old continued to make sexualized comments in front of independent witnesses. Secondly, far from finding “no abuse” the report said merely “it is too early to tell”. It was the recommendation for extended play therapy that led to those sessions with Sue Henderson following this, but then by the time of the custody hearing in late October, Judge Evans refused to hear what Henderson had discovered in play therapy.

On the strength of exchanges like his interrogation of Sharon above, Judge Evans wrote in his judgment that Sharon was a liar, obsessed and unreliable.
“I am of the firm view that there is no evidence before me to raise even the suspicion of sexual abuse…I am of the view that if she persists with these examinations and cross-examination of Teena with the religious overtones of prayer that have been brought into it, and which I have commented on in my judgment in August, then the child is going to become severely psychologically damaged.”

Quite how the Judge could read the Manuwai unit report and not even find “the suspicion of sexual abuse” is not clear. Nor is it clear why he then ignored its recommendation not to allow “unsupervised access” which, of course, full custody is.

He gave Michael full custody, and restricted Sharon’s access to having Teena every second weekend – and even that arrangement had strings attached: by order of the Court, Teena was never to be questioned, ever again, not even by CYF, about sexual abuse. Unless the mother signed a written undertaking to that effect in front of the Court Registrar, she would not be allowed to see her daughter again.

If her husband was indeed a paedophile, then Counsel for the Child and Judge Evans had just delivered him Teena on a plate.


Although a depressed and almost suicidal Sharon signed the undertaking, she was not prepared to leave events where they stood. The Court, ironically, had ordered her to undergo counseling for her “obsession”, but the counselor soon came to the conclusion that Sharon was indeed telling the truth and suffering post traumatic stress disorder, and that Teena was showing signs of sexual abuse.

Margaret Craig, a Rotorua-based sex abuse counselor and addictions specialist, tried to figure out a way of getting the Family Court’s ruling on investigating sexual abuse overturned. For a start, the ruling was virtually unprecedented given the overarching responsibility of the Court to investigate any matter that may harm the child’s welfare, and secondly in her view there was a real risk to Teena by leaving the custody issue unchallenged.

As Craig said in an affidavit at one point, “I am left with the view that some professional attitudes towards the mother throughout the course of this case, in the final analysis have left this child bereft of an advocate.

“However, my position with Sharon is as a counselor. Only in extreme circumstances would a counselor initiate and be involved in disputing a decision of the Family Court. I further consider that this case is one which warrants my intervention.”

Craig called up a friend, local lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown, and explained the problem. Despite the fact that Sharon had no money, he agreed to work on the case because of the fundamental natural justice breaches he believed had taken place. Fresh proceedings were lodged, and the battle was on again.

There are only a few other key factors to note in this phase of our investigation. One is the decision by CYF to appoint Tauranga psychologist Sarah Calvert to provide a new report on the case. Calvert was one of the original founders of the feminist magazine Broadsheet back in the early 1970s, when colleagues remember “she was massively into ‘wimmin’s issues’, Wicca – lesbianism fascinated her as a way to throw off the shackles of patriarchal society.”

Calvert subsequently gave up heterosexuality and became a leading light in the lesbian wing of the feminist movement. Pertinent to this case, recalls one who knows her well, “she’s very good friends with Jan Walker. She and Sarah have been close mates for years. And for what it’s worth, Sarah and Labour MP Margaret Wilson are next door neighbours in Tauranga. They’ve been very, very good friends for years too.”

The problem with a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. Jan Walker and Claudia Elliott – the lawfirm acting for Michael – are well plugged into the Labour party. John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child, is married to a Labour MP who is active in women’s issues. The Chadwicks socialize with Walker and presumably Elliott. And Sarah Calvert, brought in to objectively report on the custody battle from a psychologist’s point of view, is very “close mates” with Michael’s lawyer, and a close personal friend of the Attorney-General.

Little wonder that Rob Vigor-Brown and Margaret Craig wrote to CYF opposing Calvert’s appointment.

“There is a personal relationship between Sarah Calvert on the one hand, and Jan Walker and Claudia Elliott on the other. I believe that Ms Calvert has not been used by the Family Court for some time…In this case the appearance of independence is especially critical given the history of the lack of independence already shown by other professionals.”
Calvert’s reports, in and of themselves, are inconsequential to our investigation, but they do result in another perceived breach of natural justice. The Calvert report weighs heavily in the father’s favour, and diagnoses the mother in this way: “Sharon, rather than suffering from ‘Battered Woman’s Syndrome’ or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is more likely to have a personality disorder which is of long standing”.

Now, Calvert is entitled to her professional opinion, but she’d actually never met Sharon. She hadn’t even talked to her over the phone! How was it possible for a psychologist to make an assessment of someone like this when they’d never met them?

What is also unusual about this case is the way professionals like Calvert, with a strong radical feminist worldview, managed to find the grace in her report to excuse Michael’s alleged violence in the marriage and sleeping with a knife in the marital bed as merely “post traumatic stress disorder” and “cultural”, when the natural instinct in the women’s movement would be to howl for such a male’s blood. Yet in her report, Calvert doesn’t give Sharon, a white female Christian, the same benefit of the doubt and – without meeting her – diagnoses her as suffering from a “personality disorder” rather than Battered Wife Syndrome.
Yet the Calvert report was used in Court, yet again, to deny Sharon’s custody bid.

Margaret Craig, Rob Vigor-Brown and now forensic psychologist Gail Ratcliffe turned their guns on Calvert, on Chadwick and on the Family Court ruling. Eventually Chadwick’s role ended when proceedings were lodged in a different region, but his replacement as Counsel for the Child was another female lawyer, understood to be “very close” to Calvert.

We are not alleging in this article that merely because lawyers and psychologists are friends or know each other socially that anything wrong has actually taken place. However, like lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown, we are concerned that justice must be seen to be done, and perceived conflicts of interest are as serious to the administration of justice as real ones in terms of eroding public faith in the legal system.

Margaret Craig and Gail Ratcliffe perused handwritten poems and letters penned by Michael, looking for evidence about the man’s state of mind. One little ditty he wrote goes like this, “I want sex/Don’t come on the desk/Where my old man rests/You may shake this sweat off my chest.”

Another, apparently written before Teena’s birth:

“I vomit my own guilt/And flush (flash?) a smile/I transfer my crime/To an unborn child”.

There are other, more explicit writings. He wrote, for instance about the pleasure he got from masturbation, and violence. Slowly but surely, Sharon’s new support team managed to get increasing levels of access for her.


The purpose of this story, however, as we stated right at the beginning, is not to prove that sexual abuse took place. Instead, we hope we have illustrated in this extended
investigation that it was impossible to prove sexual abuse because of what we believe were fundamental errors of judgment by Counsel for the Child John Chadwick, exacerbated by an irascible Family Court judge. It is our opinion that those two men failed in their statutory responsibility to protect the child, by failing to properly ascertain whether the child was actually being harmed or not. While it is a welcome change to see courts supporting fathers, there is a now famous quote which says “Justice should be seen to be blind, not stupid.”
Justice is harmed when pendulums swing too far in either direction. For the record, John Chadwick was cleared of any wrongdoing by the two Law Society (local and national) investigations into Sharon’s complaints.

Hindsight eventually proved, however, that Sharon’s fears about her ex-husband’s background were correct – four years ago Michael became involved in a drug deal that went wrong and disappeared with an AK-47 rifle, leaving a girlfriend behind. The police alerted Sharon, and Michael eventually turned up outside Teena’s school some months later, planning to abduct her. As a result of this, he was forced to sign over full custody to Sharon.

Teena, now 14, suffers what psychologists call “intrusions” in her dreams centering on rape and sexual violence. She has not seen her father for several years. According to Sharon, he is now in the hospitality industry and addicted to methamphetamines.


Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

PAWNS IN A GAME, DEC 2004

She was 27 years old. Her Australian-born daughter was only two. They had already suffered much, but at the hands of a New Zealand Judge, a lawyer and an alleged paedophile and drug dealer, they were about to suffer a whole lot more. IAN WISHART has the incredible story of Sharon and Teena, and their fight to survive...

Rotorua is a great little town. A friendly tourist trap with its mud pools and geysers. But it has its secrets as well. Deep, dark secrets. As anyone who was close to a television set earlier this year will recall, the biggest police scandal in New Zealand’s history blew up in sleepy Rotorua of all places, involving allegations of sexual orgies, gang rape, cover-ups and corruption. Allegations so serious that the Government has called a Commission of Inquiry into the claims of several Rotorua women, including Louise Nicholas.

Investigate can throw another similar case into the ring – that of senior Rotorua police officer Evan Jordan (now deceased), whose previous claim to fame came from cheating death in a Zimbabwean air crash in 1990 and selling his video footage of the crash-landing to TV3 and the Readers Digest. What neither media organization realised at the time was that Jordan was a corrupt cop who had a habit of arresting attractive young women on various misdemeanor charges in Rotorua then arranging to drop the prosecutions in exchange for sexual favours. Although eventually prosecuted for rape in Rotorua in the mid nineties, he got off.

Indeed, the allegations that have surfaced this year about Rotorua raise questions about just how far back and how deep the corruption in that city’s law enforcement and justice systems goes. Might it, for example, go all the way back to Christmas, 1976, and the disappearance of Wellington mother of two Heidi Charles, holidaying in Rotorua with her family? Dropped off for a spot of Christmas shopping in the morning, the attractive young blonde never returned to her two boys or her husband. No trace of her was ever discovered. Rotorua police never upgraded her disappearance to homicide, nor did police searches find anything.

The question after all this time might better be phrased, “How hard did they really look?”

And it is the same question that surfaces unanswered in this investigation.

The story that follows contains material that is sometimes graphic. When it is, it is simply because it is relevant to the investigation and needs to be included. What follows is the result of hours of interviews with some of those involved. We now make it clear, for the sake of legal clarity, that this story is not about whether the child at the centre of it all was sexually abused by her father. You will read evidence indicating that this could be the case, but the point was never proven in Court.
And that’s actually what this story is about: did the Family Court and CYF systems fail the child by failing to properly investigate the sexual abuse allegations? In other words, we are not attempting to prove here that sexual abuse definitely took place. We are attempting to show that serious allegations of abuse were not properly investigated, in our view, and ignored by those with the statutory responsibility for protecting the child.
What we don’t understand is why:

When Sharon (all names of family members in this story have been changed), met Michael in Brisbane in July 1989, it seemed at first blush to be a match made in heaven. Both were 24-years-old: she, a vivacious young New Zealander looking to experience the world; he, a dashing Middle Easterner who was trying to forge a new life for himself in Australia after spending two years on secondment to a combat unit in a war-ravaged country. It was a whirlwind romance – the pair married in Brisbane eight weeks later, and Sharon was pregnant with baby Teena soon after.

But according to Sharon, the romantic whirlwind became a hurricane of horror during the pregnancy. Michael’s application for refugee status in Australia had been turned down, and increasingly she felt he was using her as a meal ticket.

“His whole attitude toward me changed, it was like he saw me as property, something he owned rather than someone he loved. By getting married to a Kiwi, he could get a New Zealand passport which meant he could live in Australia and travel internationally without a barrage of questions at every airport.”

Sharon and Michael were living in Australia with Michael’s mother, and she claims he was often violent toward her, becoming passionately angry and frequently threatening her with kitchen knives.

“He would hide behind doors with a knife, wait for me to come through and then leap out and hold the blade to my throat. It terrified me and he seemed to enjoy it.

“His mother just stood there, screaming hysterically at him, but it made no difference. He’d broken her arm once when they lived in London. He was bashing his girlfriend and his mother intervened to try and stop it, and he broke her arm. Michael was very, very violent, and had a Middle Eastern view on male dominance.”

One story Michael told to a number of people is how his father had shot dead one of his sons – Michael’s brother – one night when Michael was eight, because the younger boy, a six year old, was making too much noise. Whether the story is true or not is beyond our ability to prove. However, others remember Michael telling them.

Michael also seemed to be well-acquainted with violence outside the home: during a trip to Sydney soon after their marriage, Sharon says Michael was approached by men with organized crime connections wanting him to carry out a “hit” for $8,000. Sharon says she talked him out of doing the crime, and claims he gloated when a TV news story they were watching one evening showed the Vietnamese man hired to carry out the murder got caught.

“Michael was full of bravado, boasting about how if he’d done it he would have gotten away without being seen,” recalls Sharon.

While the story may seem far-fetched, Michael admitted being approached by the Mafia to the Family Court in New Zealand.

So what other bad habits did this former Middle Eastern gunman have? According to Sharon, he routinely slept with a knife under his pillow. Normal behaviour perhaps in a war zone – but not in Australia or New Zealand.

The colourful and violent background of Michael is only an entrée to this story however, which takes on a life of its own in mid-1992 while the young family was living in New Zealand.

For nearly a year, Michael, Sharon and baby Teena had been living with Sharon’s mother in Rotorua. Sharon’s mother had seen first-hand some of Michael’s behaviour, and had herself challenged him about the knife he kept close by. By March 1992, relations between the couple had become so tense that Sharon was “withholding sexual favours” – a freeze that was to become permanent. In June that year, Michael agreed to let his wife take Teena back to Australia so she could find work there and help pay off some of the family’s mounting debt. Sharon didn’t tell Michael she was planning to leave him at this point, but she maintains her husband was living life as if he was single anyway.
Too much Middle Eastern machismo and a liking for wild oats, she claimed.

By all accounts, and this would later become relevant as you’ll see, Michael had an exceedingly high sex drive, desiring sex several times a day and, again, becoming violent and moody if he didn’t get it. Then again, the moodiness could have been caused by the Middle Easterner’s long-standing cannabis habit – a habit that did nothing to ease the couple’s financial strains.

It was while she was working in Sydney that Sharon plotted her escape, but her plans hit a snag in August 1992 when she fell ill and was told she would need to be hospitalized. Sharon made a decision to make a same-day return flight to New Zealand and drop Teena into her mother’s care so she could return to Sydney for treatment without having to worry about childcare for her daughter. While Teena was in her grandmother’s care, Michael had what family would later describe as “liberal” access to his daughter.

Speaking now, twelve years after it happened, the events that followed remain a raw wound for Sharon. It is a rambling interview: so much to tell, so little time, if one can call a couple of weeks just a “little time”. But she’s right – trying to concertina years of trauma, enough to fill 10 Eastlight files of documents – into two weeks’ worth of interviews is traumatic in and of itself.

Sharon has nothing to gain from this. Her case in the Family Court ended years ago. She ultimately got the justice she was seeking. However, the story of what happened to Teena and Sharon, and the way they were treated by the judicial and child protection systems in Rotorua/Bay of Plenty raises such serious matters of public interest that Sharon feels compelled to lift the lid on it publicly for the first time.


November 1, 1992, was a Sunday. And as the Boeing 747 lined up for its final approach to Auckland’s Jean Batten Airport, Sharon could already feel the knots rising in her stomach – and they had nothing to do with the impending touchdown. Sharon had come to pick up her daughter, tell her husband their marriage was over, and return to Australia. Michael, however, already knew this. He’d sought an ex-parté court hearing to grant himself interim custody of Teena, and to prevent his estranged wife from taking the girl with her. Teena was less than two and a half years old at this point.

The first Sharon knew of the secret court hearing was when she was slapped with a court order on Monday November 2, telling her Australian-born Teena was to remain in New Zealand. The Court had also declared that Teena should remain in the custody of Sharon’s mother, whom she’d been staying with.

Mother and daughter had two short weeks together before Sharon returned to her job in Sydney mid-November, hoping to save up enough to provide for her daughter when she was next scheduled to return in February 1993. Sharon was hoping the custody issue would have been decided by then.
Unbeknownst to Sharon, however, the situation was about to take a sinister turn.

On Friday December 4, 1992, Michael had picked up Teena from her grandmother for a three hour access visit. The child returned off-colour, not settling until close to midnight. By morning, she was suffering an extreme bout of diarrhea.

Saturday 5 December: Teena is taken for another three hour session by her father. Soon after her return, Sharon’s mother notices Teena had what she thought were wet pants. On taking them off, she discovered a sticky substance that appeared to be semen, “stretching all the way from the back of the crutch up to the rear waistband.”
Sickened, and feeling her stomach churn, she rang her two sons to seek a second opinion. Their verdict on seeing the substance in the underpants: “It’s definitely semen, Mum. You have to take Teena to see a doctor, straight away.”

Placing the stained underpants in a plastic bag, Sharon’s mother and one of her sons drove the child to the local A&E clinic which, being a Saturday night, was full. When they eventually got in to see him, the doctor performed what will later be described as a “cursory” vaginal examination before saying, “No sign of vaginal trauma,” and telling them the discharge is probably related to the diarrhea.

“Take a look at the underpants, I’ve got them here,” volunteered the grandmother.

“No, that won’t be necessary,” the doctor twice indicated with a dismissive wave of his hand. He performed no rectal examination of baby Teena.

Unsatisfied, but lacking the hard evidence that she presumed the doctor’s visit would provide, the grandmother could only fire a warning shot across Michael’s bows when he returned on Sunday afternoon to pick up Teena for another visit. She told him she wasn’t happy at what she’d discovered in Teena’s pants, and that he’d better keep the child safe. Michael said nothing, but when he returned at 7pm the next evening he was secretly wearing a tape recorder. It was Monday, December 7.

The grandmother, meanwhile, rang her lawyer to seek advice. She told her to get in contact with the man who had the statutory responsibility of protecting Teena – lawyer John Chadwick, who’d been appointed Counsel for the Child (CFC) in the legal proceedings begun back in November. It is routine in Family Court cases for an independent lawyer to be appointed to represent the child’s interests. John Chadwick, a colourful local Rotorua barrister, is the husband of Labour MP Steve (Stephanie) Chadwick, the Chairwoman of Parliament’s Health Select Committee. Both have been active in Labour Party affairs, and were instrumental in setting up Rotorua’s first Women’s Refuge in 1996.

“Counsel for the Child will look after Teena,” the grandmother’s lawyer reassured. “He’ll instantly stop access while this is investigated. You need to bring this to his attention.”
Sharon’s mother arranged to see John Chadwick the next morning, but events were quickly turning to custard. When Michael turned up on Monday evening, Sharon’s brother Toby couldn’t hold back his anger and began punching Michael. As the police transcript would later reveal, it was a brutal encounter.

“I didn’t enter the house,” Michael told police. “Toby, my brother-in-law, came to the door. Toby snatched Teena off me; I put my head inside the house and said to my mother-in-law, “I’ll pick her up tomorrow”. Toby stepped outside the house and said to me, ‘You’ll be f***en lucky’.

“I replied, ‘What do you mean?’ Toby answered, ‘What did I see in her f***en pants the other day, mate? What did I see in Teena’s pants the other day? I saw something that only big boys f***en excrete, mate!’

“While he was saying this he was standing over me trying to intimidate me. I had no idea what he was talking about….then Toby punched me in the right hand side of my chest and said, ‘You should f*** off back to where you came from, boy, before I cut your f***en throat. I know what you’ve been doing.’

“I started walking backwards towards my car. Toby followed me and said, ‘I know what you’ve been f***en doing boy, if you get away with it I’m going to come back and f***en hammer you alright’. That’s when he punched me again, hitting me on the right shoulder this time.

“I got into my car and as I was getting into the driver’s seat he leaned in and shoved me so hard that I ended up on the other side of the car.”
Michael fled, but returned the next morning, Tuesday 8th, for his scheduled full day of access, and uplifted Teena.

It is here that Investigate makes the first serious allegation. On the basis of the evidence our magazine has uncovered, we believe John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child, not only failed to act in the best interests of baby Teena but deliberately acted in a way that was at least reckless and at worst may have been seriously harmful to her safety. We believe Chadwick neglected his duty not only as CFC, but as a lawyer and a human being. We believe Chadwick should immediately be suspended from acting as Counsel for Child in any other case, if not suspended from practice entirely, pending a full investigation of his behaviour in this one.
And here’s why we believe all this:

Unbeknownst to the grandmother, Michael hot-footed it first to his own lawyer, Jan Walker, with the tape recording of his mugging and the claims of sexual abuse being made by Toby during the assault.

Jan Walker is one half of the Rotorua lawfirm of Walker & Elliott. The New Zealand Law Society’s website notes that Jan Walker is exceptionally “well-connected to the current Government”, which is why the NZLS co-opted Walker to one of its main committees. Walker is indeed “well-connected”. This otherwise obscure Rotorua lawyer from a tiny legal practice was appointed Chairwoman of the Government’s Casino Control Authority. Nor is Walker’s partner any slouch. Claudia Elliott is “a staunch Labour Party activist” according to one source, “and a radical feminist”. Indeed, the lawfirm of Walker and Elliott has been truly blessed by the reigning sisterhood in the Beehive. Not only did Walker get a taxpayer-funded position, so did Elliott, as President of the Film and Literature Review Board, whose task it is to make censorship decisions. Investigate understands both lawyers are lesbian, and also staunch left wingers. This may seem irrelevant to a child protection case – and normally it would be – but for Sharon and Teena, it represents an important subtext. For while the husband was being represented by a very well-connected, liberal, Labour party lawfirm, and Counsel for the Child was himself “a staunch Labour party activist” and liberal, the wife was a Pentecostal Christian. And in a case where parents and their attitudes are examined in minute detail, it would only be a matter of time before the worldviews of these polar opposites collided.

Walker and Elliott recommended Michael see John Chadwick immediately. So by the time Sharon’s mother rang to allege sexual abuse on Tuesday 8th, John Chadwick was already primed.

“There’s no way Michael has to tolerate that sort of abuse from your family, and I want you to know the police have now been called and are out looking for your son,” he ranted.

“I’ve told Michael to disregard the Court order requiring Teena to remain in your care. I think it is better for Teena that she lives with her father, and I’ve told him not to return Teena to you.”

Sharon’s mother was flabbergasted. Here was the lawyer, appointed by the Family Court to protect her granddaughter, pointedly ignoring the references to sexual abuse and semen stains on the tape that Michael had played to him – in her view not even bothering to seriously investigate them or even pause for half a minute to consider them. Nor was he prepared to listen to the grandmother’s allegations.

“I’ve told Michael to take Teena to a doctor himself,” Chadwick said.
New Zealand’s child protection guidelines are adamant that the safety of the child is paramount in cases where sexual abuse is alleged. In all such cases, CYF investigators and the Court are required to take protective action first and sort out the truth of the claims second. It is hard to see how, after hearing that semen had allegedly been discovered in a child’s underpants, the Court-appointed Counsel for the Child could take the almost unprecedented step of actually removing the child from safe care – the grandmother – and placing her with the man who allegedly abused her. And this before any investigation had been carried out!

To further illustrate just how irregular this was, consider this: under the existing Court order dating back to early November, baby Teena was required by order of the Court to reside with her grandmother. Had Chadwick approached the Court to alter this order? No. Not yet.

It is even more unbelievable that Chadwick would allow the alleged sexual abuse perpetrator to control when and how a medical examination for sexual abuse was conducted. After all, leaving aside the issue of whether abuse actually took place, clearly the evidence could be tainted if an abuser was able to remove critical evidence by bathing. How could Chadwick control that? Obviously he couldn’t, and if he didn’t realise that, he’s incompetent. And if he did realise it was a risk then his actions run close, in Investigate’s opinion, to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

With the doctor not wanting to examine the underpants, and Counsel for the Child clearly not sympathetic, the grandmother made a decision she now regrets. She put the pants in the laundry.

Michael, meanwhile, had raced in to see CYF and tell his side of the story, as Chadwick had advised him to do.

It was after this, with events clearly escalating, that the grandmother finally called Sharon in Australia and told her of the sexual abuse. “You’d better come home straight away.” Why did she wait four days before telling her daughter? Sharon’s mother thought she could handle it herself, but John Chadwick’s stunning decision to change the Court order without authority left the grandmother with no choice but to advise Sharon, who promptly rang Chadwick from Sydney.

“The abuse allegations are rubbish!” Chadwick retorted. “Your husband is not a child molester.”

A frenzied Sharon naturally wanted to know what the lawyer and Labour Party activist was doing to investigate whether or not her daughter had, in fact, been abused. According to Sharon, Chadwick was evasive and vague, saying he’d referred the issue to CYF.

Documents contained in a massive complaint to the Law Society about Chadwick contain the full sequence of events.
It is clear that Chadwick had well and truly been placed on notice about semen in the underpants and the sexual abuse allegations by December 8. He made his decision to grant effective custody in favour of the alleged sexual abuser in full knowledge that sexual abuse allegations had just been made because he’d listened to the tape Michael had provided.

Despite the specific claims of seminal fluid being present, however, here is what Chadwick puts on the record for his file note to the Family Court on December 9 explaining why he had unilaterally altered the Court order in regard to custody:

“Last week the child was returned to the grandmother by the father after access. The child had a tummy complaint, had been wetting her pants and appeared to have diarrhea. Upon inspection the grandmother noticed a whitish substance in the underpants of the child, became suspicious about it, took the child to a doctor who made an examination and did not report anything back to worry about.”

The astute reader will notice that “seminal fluid” described by eyewitnesses was instead referred to here by Chadwick as a “whitish substance” in the context of diarrhea. And what about the visit to a Doctor by the father to have the child medically examined?

“As to the examination of the child I have consulted with a host of experts. Because of the uncertainty of the allegation it was deemed that the child should not be put through what might become a succession of medical examinations (thus compounding the trauma to the child) and instead the matter should be dealt with by way of the Care and Protection Unit as DSW which would proceed by way of a Social Worker being assigned to gather statements from the parties, such information being assessed and then a decision would be made as to whether a diagnostic interview would follow, and/or a medical examination.”

In other words, suddenly, there was to be no medical examination at all. No forensic test to see whether two and a half year old Teena had indeed been raped. Surely an experienced and independent family court lawyer would know the importance of forensic evidence in sexual abuse cases?

“The air needs to be cleared regarding the allegation and that is now being attended to,” Chadwick wrote in his backside-covering file note. “In arriving at that decision I have spoken to Dr McMenamin, Dr J Morreau, Maria Oliver (Manager of the Child Abuse Unit at Rotorua Hospital), Sue Henderson (Psychologist at DSW) and Kaye Fordham (head of the Unit at DSW)…the family are ganging up on the father and will resort to anything,” he added as a throwaway line.

It was, Sharon now claims, a set-up. When she told Chadwick she was heading back to New Zealand immediately, the lawyer took a new tack after hanging up the phone.

“This matter has degenerated, requiring Counsel for the Child to take action at short notice,” he diarised to the Court. “Essentially what I have done is sanctioned the removal of the child from the home of the grandmother into the day-to-day care of the Applicant father as of 8 December [the previous day].

“My immediate concern now is when the mother of the child returns on Saturday…I can already foresee the potential for a tug-of-war in which she is liable to retain the child and refuse to return her to the father.

“It is for that reason that I seek an urgent amendment to the present Interim Custody Order to provide that the child reside with the Applicant father until further Order of the Court.
In my view such an amendment to the Order is in the interests and welfare of the child.”

Meanwhile, Sharon’s lawyers at Rotorua firm Dennet Olphert Sandford & Dowthwaite were furiously faxing all and sundry to find out why the existing Court Order was not being followed.

“Included in these proceedings is reference to the grandmother’s and Sharon’s extreme concern over the possibility that the child has been the subject of sexual abuse while in the care of the father…our client urgently requires all steps taken to protect the child from any possible position of danger until the fears of the grandmother in particular as a result of her observations are investigated by appropriate medical professionals. We do not consider that it is at all acceptable or appropriate for Michael to accompany or refer the child for investigation in respect of this complaint…In disobeying the Court Order we take the view that Michael is in contempt of Court.”

Chadwick soon responded.

“I have your letter of 9/12/92…I confirm that I am Counsel for the Child. You should understand that Michael is not in breach of the Court Order. He retained the child on my advice and if anyone is in breach it is perhaps me. However, that is my cross to bear. In the circumstances, I made the decision and I have already filed a full report to the Court on why.

“The grandmother has not made an allegation of sexual abuse against the father. She has had the opportunity to do that to me at least three times in the last 48 hours. At best she has a suspicion. That does not seem to have prevented your client [Sharon] from telephoning me from Sydney to make an allegation. Neither has it prevented your client’s brother Toby from making a blatant allegation and assaulting the father in the process and then telephoning me twice at home to justify his actions which are now a police matter.”

Who, exactly, was Counsel for the Child John Chadwick acting for in this dispute? Teena? Or her father? And Chadwick was clearly being disingenuous in claiming that the grandmother had not made an allegation of sexual abuse. After all, his own report to the Court on December 9 made it clear that sexual abuse was the card on the table:

“Upon returning the child he was confronted by Toby…threatened, assaulted and accused of sexually abusing his daughter…outraged at the allegation of sexual abuse.”

Toby, like the grandmother, was a primary witness to the same evidence that grandmother had seen. Toby was the one who actually confirmed his mother’s suspicions when he told her the substance in the underpants was definitely seminal fluid. Toby’s allegations of sexual abuse were as first-hand as the one Chadwick claimed he lacked from the grandmother to this point. His denial in the letter to Sharon’s lawyers appears to be nothing more than game-playing – a misleading diversion.

In the complaint to the Law Society about Chadwick is an affidavit sworn by Sharon’s mother on December 9. The affidavit details the events of the preceding four days, describes clearly the discovery of semen, the fears of sexual abuse, and Chadwick’s unilateral action to give the child directly to the father regardless. That affidavit was served on Chadwick by Sharon’s lawyers, just to make it abundantly clear: the grandmother feared sexual abuse by the father and had found evidence of it.

Meanwhile the war of the faxes continued. On December 11, Chadwick wrote to Sharon’s lawyers: “There are times when Counsel for the Child has to act decisively. I am comfortable with my decision. I am not going to reverse my decision.”
Chadwick again added that he had “discussed the matter with Sue Henderson and Kay Fordham [at the Social Welfare Department’s CYF unit] who agreed to deal with the matter forthwith and they will be reporting to me. Michael has already been interviewed and while the grandmother is still to be interviewed [our emphasis] I am confident that the suspicion or allegation against Michael has no basis.”

Again, another stunning admission from John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child. Before CYF staff had even interviewed any of the primary witnesses to the semen, Chadwick said the allegation had “no basis”. Little wonder the Sharon and the grandmother came to believe very early on in that they were being jumped all over by a kangaroo court. And don’t forget, John Chadwick is a prominent Labour Party activist, married to a prominent Labour MP whose parliamentary webpage talks of her track record in protecting women and children; the political connections in this case are fascinating.

Sharon’s lawyers hit back. “We do not accept that Counsel for the Child has authority to permit breach of Court orders.”
Chadwick’s next step was intriguing. That same day, Friday December 11, he filed an ex parté application to the Family Court to ratify the action he’d already taken in breaking the Court Order, requesting a new directive: “Until further Order of the Court the child is to reside with the applicant father Michael.” Remember that the mother, Sharon, was arriving in the country the following day.

Nowhere in Chadwick’s six-paragraph application was reference made anywhere to the claims of sexual abuse. Nowhere. John Chadwick is an intelligent man. Presumably his decision to omit any reference to the alleged semen-stained underwear and sexual abuse was deliberate, rather than accidental. He was, after all, the man with the statutory responsibility to look after Teena’s safety and best interests. He could, and probably will, argue that the issue was touched on in previous correspondence to the Court. But for that matter, so were other aspects in the application.

When Sharon arrived in Rotorua she immediately made an appointment to see John Chadwick on Monday December 14. According to Sharon, he assured her he’d informed the appropriate authorities and the sexual abuse allegation was being treated seriously. As we now know from the documents, it wasn’t.

There is also considerable dispute over exactly what Chadwick told CYF psychologist Sue Henderson about the circumstances of the case. Sharon arranged to see Henderson later on that Monday. But Henderson seemed bemused at the idea of a medical examination for Teena.

“Why would we do a medical examination?” she asked. “Bedwetting is not serious enough to be taken as proof of sexual abuse.”
Sharon hit the roof.

“Bedwetting?! My mother found semen stains in my daughter’s panties. Who told you it was only ‘bedwetting’?”

“John Chadwick. Under those circumstances, we didn’t see any reason to interview Teena or get her examined”.

Sharon discovered that Chadwick had told CYF worker Ioli Nathan of a sexual abuse allegation on December 9, but that “seminal fluid” did not appear to have been discussed. Nor had Chadwick provided CYF with a copy of the grandmother’s December 9 affidavit detailing what she’d found. Little wonder that CYF thought they were simply dealing with just another over-reactive mother.

Sharon went back to her lawyers, grabbed a copy of her mother’s affidavit and gave it to Sue Henderson.
There was an immediate change in CYF’s attitude. Henderson told Sharon she wanted to see Teena “as soon as possible” for a diagnostic interview to determine the possibility of sexual abuse.

Chadwick, meanwhile, remained in a state of denial, telling Sharon’s lawyers, “I spoke to Sue Henderson today and she expressed surprise that Teena was to be interviewed by her today. She said she had not made any arrangements for such an interview and she said that she was not intending to interview the child.”
For the first time, the situation began to spin out of Chadwick’s control. The Counsel for the Child was well and truly behind the eight-ball.

As Sharon laid it out to the Law Society, “I firmly believe Mr Chadwick orchestrated an impression with key parties that he had taken the appropriate steps as Counsel for the Child to ensure Teena was examined…he…mislead and minimized the situation and presented a ‘bedwetting’ scenario to Sue Henderson anticipating, correctly, that nothing would proceed by way of a diagnostic interview.

“Over this period, time was of essence and the opportunity to obtain physical evidence was diminishing daily. Once NZCYPS staff were apprised of the situation following presentation of my mother’s affidavit they took immediate action to protect Teena via a Place of Safety Warrant. As a result, Teena was returned to me that day, December 18, 1992.

“Sue Henderson [was the one who] organized for Dr Morreau, Paediatrician, to carry out an examination of Teena, not Mr Chadwick. This was done 17 days after the alleged abuse incident.”

Henderson, despite Chadwick’s intimations, moved rapidly to assess Teena’s case for herself. After reading the affidavit she interviewed both mother and grandmother – digging further for any other signs that may indicate abuse. The grandmother noted inappropriate behaviour by the little girl, such as pulling up her shirt and rubbing her body against other family members when they were lying on the floor watching TV. Toby also mentioned that Teena had often tried to unzip his fly.
Taken together, said Henderson, “these are not typical behaviours for a two-year-old. I consider that this information raises concerns that Teena may have been sexually abused. I don’t think it is at all appropriate and it is possibly unsafe for her to be in her father’s care until these matters can be clarified.”

Henderson’s report was used as the basis to uplift Teena to a place of safety, and seek a full examination.

So there it was. Finally, nearly three weeks after the alleged seminal fluid was found, Teena was properly medically-examined for the first time. She was, as you’ll recall, only two-and-a-half years old.

But by now the evidence of any abuse, if it occurred 17 days earlier, was long gone. Dr Morreau did discover engorged anal veins and could not rule out sexual abuse. But nor could he rule it in. Result: inconclusive. It should be noted that anal injuries in children can heal as quickly as four days after an event.

Although swabs were taken, any semen, if it had been there, had well and truly vanished by this point.

The Place of Safety Warrant meant that CYF effectively took legal custody of Teena for the duration of the Warrant. CYF chose to place the child with her mother, although Family Court judge Philip Evans overturned this ruling only days later. Nonetheless, the safety period was long enough to get the child examined, in defiance of Chadwick’s interference.

Morreau had examined Teena on December 22, but his report was not delivered to John Chadwick until the afternoon of Friday, January 15, 1993. Teena was with her mother that day and, as Sharon records in her Law Society complaint, the little girl had a normal bowel motion on the morning of Saturday, January 16, before her father collected her for his weekend access.

On Monday morning, driving through town, Sharon saw her husband’s car parked outside Chadwick’s office. Her husband subsequently drove Teena to a doctor where he said the child was extremely constipated and needed medicine to loosen her bowels. The doctor also gave the father some cream to apply to the child’s anus. As Sharon remarked later, Michael had only had Teena for 48 hours – not long enough to become aware of “a serious constipation issue”. And why, wondered Sharon, did this sudden visit to a doctor come straight after a meeting with Chadwick?

Chadwick had a copy of the paediatrician’s report in his hands. In fact, he was probably the only one with the report at that stage. In her Law Society complaint Sharon believes – but has absolutely no proof - Chadwick leaked details of the report to the father, which prompted the father to try and set up a “constipation alibi” to explain engorged anal veins. She knew her daughter was not constipated. The anal cream prescription would provide good cover, she said, for claims that “Daddy touched my bottie”.
And there were certainly plenty of those claims surfacing now.

At just on two-and-a-half, and with a limited vocabulary and even shorter attention span, Teena would not have been a good candidate for parental coaching. As most parents know, trying to get a child that age to repeat something consistently quickly turns into a frustrating game of Chinese Whispers. So it was the child’s actions that initially spoke louder than words.

When CYF psychologist Sue Henderson began “play therapy” sessions – in which a child’s play and comments are closely observed – with Teena late in 1993, it quickly became apparent to Henderson that some kind of abuse had taken place. Teena’s play with dolls focused on a game where a man touched the doll’s genitals and “made it sore”. Teena told Henderson she was scared the doll would be killed. She talked of “monsters” that “hurt me”. Although the little girl never named a specific abuser (leading Henderson to note on her file “there is no specific disclosure of sexual abuse”), Henderson felt sufficiently convinced after only four of the scheduled 12 sessions that Teena’s play was “consistent with that of a child who has been sexually abused”, and that the references to “bottie sore” while pointing to the doll’s vagina were indicative of vaginal trauma.

Henderson was sufficiently concerned at the lack of interest by Counsel for the Child in the sexual abuse allegations that she supported efforts to have Chadwick removed from the case.

Here another irregularity in the case surfaces. Henderson was later interviewed by prominent forensic psychologist Gail Ratcliffe. Henderson confirmed to her that, “There have been problems in handling this case from day one. I will never understand what happened in this case. I certainly had concerns from the start. I asked the Court to appoint another Counsel for Child because I did not feel that he was acting in her best interests. That letter should be in the CYPS file. After conducting play therapy with Teena I was extremely concerned for her safety. No name came out but her play is highly consistent with the traumatic play of sexually abused children. I have no doubts about the abuse. I wrote to the Counsel for Child.”

Yet when the case finally came to trial in late 1993, CYF psychologist Sue Henderson was not allowed to testify as a witness. In fact, as Sharon argues it today, she believes John Chadwick and Family Court judge Philip Evans conspired to block her.

Compare the childish language recorded by both Sharon and Henderson, with a bizarre claim from Michael in February 1993, where he testified in evidence that he’d been driving with Teena in his car when the child (still only two and a half at that point) suddenly said “Roger (pseudonym) f***ed me up the ass”.

Apparently working from the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” school, Michael not only corroborated claims that his daughter was making sexualized statements, but in one fell swoop dropped his flatmate in the mix as the potential abuser.

The first hurdle to credibility of his core claim, however, is convincing people that a two- and-a-half year old girl who still says “bottie” would suddenly turn around and use the kind of graphic language normally heard in a pub.

The second hurdle for Michael is even more difficult. If he’s not telling the truth, then he’s lying. But if it’s a lie, it’s a bad one because he can no longer deny Sharon’s claims that the child is using sexualized language. At this point, both parents are reporting evidence of potential abuse, regardless of who they point the finger at.

Sharon herself did not appear to understand the significance of Michael’s admission. Instead of embracing Michael’s statement and using it as a lever to get the sexual abuse issue properly investigated, Sharon’s reaction was more of a standard kneejerk to Michael’s claim that she must have coached her daughter to say “f***ed up the ass”:

“Teena does not use this language when she is in my care. I have never heard her use such words. I have heard her saying ‘bitch’ and ‘bugger off’ upon returning from Roger’s and Michael’s place. She has been reprimanded for this and has not said it again in my presence. I have never heard Teena use the word ‘f***ed’. She has never talked like that to me. Teena only uses words and sentences she understands. I believe Michael has made this up.”

Indeed, nowhere else in the whole case is Teena ever said to have used the word.

Opportunity lost, the custody dispute dragged on.

Sharon was on legal aid, but by October 1993 she’d exceeded her $20,000 legal aid budget. Her lawfirm, Dennet Olphert Sandford & Dowthwaite, walked out on her just before the trial, leaving the 27-year-old solo mother flying blind and up against not just her husband’s legal team but a hostile judge and Counsel for the Child.

Is it ethical for a lawfirm to simply pull the plug before a trial and leave a client to swim? Apparently so, which is perhaps an issue the New Zealand Law Society needs to examine more closely in terms of a revamp of its code of ethics – should lawyers have a legal responsibility to finish a job they start; should lawyers be prevented from charging by the hour and required to charge by the case? After all, the vast bulk of complaints to the media about lawyers involve counsel who charge by the hour at full rate on minutiae – even when it’s a low-paid legal assistant actually licking the stamps or making calls - sucking the client dry of funds so they’re left with no cash to actually go to court.

Meanwhile Sharon says she asked for an adjournment so she could seek new legal counsel, but Judge Evans refused. As lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown later told Investigate: “You can quote me on this – she should never have been left to handle her own case alone for four days. It’s hard enough for us lawyers to cross-examine experts.”
But left alone she was, and the Court had a field-day stitching her up.

The legal battle Sharon was facing was simple: her ex-husband Michael was pushing to gain full custody of Teena – effectively locking Sharon out of the child’s life in a significant way that left her unable to protect the girl from the risk of further sexual abuse, if Michael was indeed the perpetrator.

The custody battle was fought out in two court hearings in late 1993. In the first decision, handed down in August, Judge Evans ruled that sexual abuse had not been proven. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. But the real question is, would sexual abuse have been proven if Counsel for the Child John Chadwick had done his job differently?

The Judge also made basic fundamental errors in his judgment. For example, he wrote, “The mother today says it was 17 days until the child was examined, but Mr Chadwick elicited in cross examination that in fact the grandmother took the child to a doctor at the hospital within 24 hours and that doctor found no evidence of abuse.”

As readers will already know, the doctor concerned conducted no rectal examination and did not inspect the underwear with the alleged semen stains. Of course the doctor found “no evidence of abuse” – he didn’t conduct a complete examination.

Judge Evans continues: “In the event, the maternal grandmother allegedly then washed the panties and the evidence allegedly was removed. That of course in itself is a surprising action in the circumstances.”

As Sharon sees it, which is more surprising: the actions of a stressed grandmother who felt no-one wanted to know, or the failure of Counsel for the Child to request an immediate medical examination when first presented with the allegation?

Two of Sharon’s friends, both members of a large Christian Church in Rotorua, testified about separate occasions where Teena had talked about her bottom being sore. One woman said she was visiting on June 7 1993, when Teena (still less than three years old at this point) said “Daddy hurt me”. When asked how, Teena replied, “He poked a hole in my bottie”.

The second woman said she was called in by Sharon on July 20 when Teena began complaining about a “sore bottie” and suggesting “Daddy poked his diddle in it”. The second woman prayed for the child to be protected – an action that earnt the scorn of Judge Evans who said that praying in front of the child “must cause the Court considerable concern”.
Judge Evans dropped another clanger, concluding: “Sharon’s allegations are unsupported as to anal penetration by the medical evidence.”

Again, would they have been unsupported if a medical examination had taken place straight away on the instructions of Counsel for the Child John Chadwick?

In hearing number two, in late October 1993, Judge Evans struck out Sharon’s bid to call Sue Henderson as a witness. Evidence from the first official investigation into the sex abuse claims was ruled out of bounds. As we’ve already seen, Henderson was convinced sexual abuse had occurred. The Court was not allowed to hear her say it.
Instead, the first witness was one of Sharon’s two church friends. And practically the first question from Michael’s lawyer, Jan Walker, is directed at the church both women attended.

“Is it fair to say that it is not one of the mainstream denomination churches?” quizzed Miss Walker. The witness explained to the hostile lawyer that Pentecostalism is mainstream Christianity.

Walker, Chadwick and the Judge all directed a considerable number of questions to various witnesses about their links to their church, with one of the lawyers describing it as “chilling”.

And when the lawyers weren’t making sinister implications about Sharon’s faith, they were laying traps for her. In one instance Chadwick was cross-examining Sharon on the semen in the underpants issue for several minutes until Judge Evans interrupted from the bench, eyeballing Sharon: “Can I issue this warning to you: you repeatedly when under pressure in cross-examination start talking as though you were present at things when patently you were not!”

“I’m sorry,” answered Sharon. “Mr Chadwick was asking, I thought I had to answer him.”

As an experienced lawyer, Chadwick knew he was asking the witness about an event she was not privy to.

Judge Evans lashed out at Sharon again just a few minutes later, telling her in effect to drop her case. “Is this battle going to go on indefinitely?...Answer the question, face up to reality!”

“It could go on; I just want her protected from what is going on.”

“Have you any concerns at all about the constant involvement of all sorts of professionals in your child’s life…all the physical exams?”

“She only had one exploratory exam.”

“Are you saying to me that you have no concerns?”

“I am concerned. I’m concerned for the whole thing, the way the paediatrician didn’t look at her until 17 days after –”

“I don’t want to get onto that topic again,” snapped the Judge. First rule of the courtroom: never ask a question you don’t want the answer to.
And yet, it appears Judge Evans was being deliberately selective. In the earlier hearing he had called for a diagnostic assessment of Teena by the CYF Manuwai unit in Hamilton.

That report was available to the Court and records:

“Teena spontaneously picked up a baby doll and undressed it. She made the comment ‘her bottie’s sore’ as she did this, and said she’s have to take the doll to the doctor. When asked what made the bottie sore she replied ‘Daddy’, but provided no clarification, context or detail for this remark. She named monsters as scary people and then said that this was Daddy, but she did not elaborate on this comment and no conclusions can be made from it.

“During the second part of the interview Teena named ‘diddle’ for penis when looking at a picture about bath time…when leaving the room a little later she was holding a doll and said that Daddy had ‘poked the bottom’ with his diddle. Again, she would not be drawn into elaborating on this comment…making it difficult to draw conclusions.

“In my experience,” analyst Karen Wilson wrote, “the type of language Teena is reported to have used…is consistent with the types of expressions young children do use to describe sexual activity they don’t understand. However, it is difficult at this late stage to interpret Teena’s original comments in isolation from more recent questioning she has had. Unfortunately, Teena is too young developmentally to interview effectively using a diagnostic format, it is therefore not possible to adequately assess her safety through this method and a definitive answer as to whether she has been abused is not possible.

“One option for the Court to consider would be extended play therapy for Teena with a child psychotherapist or psychologist, which could focus on general issues rather than sexual abuse. Further assessment in this way may resolve the issue of whether abuse has occurred.

“In my opinion, unsupervised access would leave all parties vulnerable until such time as Teena is old enough to be fully assessed through a diagnostic process.”

Several things emerged from that report. Firstly, the three year old continued to make sexualized comments in front of independent witnesses. Secondly, far from finding “no abuse” the report said merely “it is too early to tell”. It was the recommendation for extended play therapy that led to those sessions with Sue Henderson following this, but then by the time of the custody hearing in late October, Judge Evans refused to hear what Henderson had discovered in play therapy.

On the strength of exchanges like his interrogation of Sharon above, Judge Evans wrote in his judgment that Sharon was a liar, obsessed and unreliable.
“I am of the firm view that there is no evidence before me to raise even the suspicion of sexual abuse…I am of the view that if she persists with these examinations and cross-examination of Teena with the religious overtones of prayer that have been brought into it, and which I have commented on in my judgment in August, then the child is going to become severely psychologically damaged.”

Quite how the Judge could read the Manuwai unit report and not even find “the suspicion of sexual abuse” is not clear. Nor is it clear why he then ignored its recommendation not to allow “unsupervised access” which, of course, full custody is.

He gave Michael full custody, and restricted Sharon’s access to having Teena every second weekend – and even that arrangement had strings attached: by order of the Court, Teena was never to be questioned, ever again, not even by CYF, about sexual abuse. Unless the mother signed a written undertaking to that effect in front of the Court Registrar, she would not be allowed to see her daughter again.

If her husband was indeed a paedophile, then Counsel for the Child and Judge Evans had just delivered him Teena on a plate.


Although a depressed and almost suicidal Sharon signed the undertaking, she was not prepared to leave events where they stood. The Court, ironically, had ordered her to undergo counseling for her “obsession”, but the counselor soon came to the conclusion that Sharon was indeed telling the truth and suffering post traumatic stress disorder, and that Teena was showing signs of sexual abuse.

Margaret Craig, a Rotorua-based sex abuse counselor and addictions specialist, tried to figure out a way of getting the Family Court’s ruling on investigating sexual abuse overturned. For a start, the ruling was virtually unprecedented given the overarching responsibility of the Court to investigate any matter that may harm the child’s welfare, and secondly in her view there was a real risk to Teena by leaving the custody issue unchallenged.

As Craig said in an affidavit at one point, “I am left with the view that some professional attitudes towards the mother throughout the course of this case, in the final analysis have left this child bereft of an advocate.

“However, my position with Sharon is as a counselor. Only in extreme circumstances would a counselor initiate and be involved in disputing a decision of the Family Court. I further consider that this case is one which warrants my intervention.”

Craig called up a friend, local lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown, and explained the problem. Despite the fact that Sharon had no money, he agreed to work on the case because of the fundamental natural justice breaches he believed had taken place. Fresh proceedings were lodged, and the battle was on again.

There are only a few other key factors to note in this phase of our investigation. One is the decision by CYF to appoint Tauranga psychologist Sarah Calvert to provide a new report on the case. Calvert was one of the original founders of the feminist magazine Broadsheet back in the early 1970s, when colleagues remember “she was massively into ‘wimmin’s issues’, Wicca – lesbianism fascinated her as a way to throw off the shackles of patriarchal society.”

Calvert subsequently gave up heterosexuality and became a leading light in the lesbian wing of the feminist movement. Pertinent to this case, recalls one who knows her well, “she’s very good friends with Jan Walker. She and Sarah have been close mates for years. And for what it’s worth, Sarah and Labour MP Margaret Wilson are next door neighbours in Tauranga. They’ve been very, very good friends for years too.”

The problem with a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. Jan Walker and Claudia Elliott – the lawfirm acting for Michael – are well plugged into the Labour party. John Chadwick, Counsel for the Child, is married to a Labour MP who is active in women’s issues. The Chadwicks socialize with Walker and presumably Elliott. And Sarah Calvert, brought in to objectively report on the custody battle from a psychologist’s point of view, is very “close mates” with Michael’s lawyer, and a close personal friend of the Attorney-General.

Little wonder that Rob Vigor-Brown and Margaret Craig wrote to CYF opposing Calvert’s appointment.

“There is a personal relationship between Sarah Calvert on the one hand, and Jan Walker and Claudia Elliott on the other. I believe that Ms Calvert has not been used by the Family Court for some time…In this case the appearance of independence is especially critical given the history of the lack of independence already shown by other professionals.”
Calvert’s reports, in and of themselves, are inconsequential to our investigation, but they do result in another perceived breach of natural justice. The Calvert report weighs heavily in the father’s favour, and diagnoses the mother in this way: “Sharon, rather than suffering from ‘Battered Woman’s Syndrome’ or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is more likely to have a personality disorder which is of long standing”.

Now, Calvert is entitled to her professional opinion, but she’d actually never met Sharon. She hadn’t even talked to her over the phone! How was it possible for a psychologist to make an assessment of someone like this when they’d never met them?

What is also unusual about this case is the way professionals like Calvert, with a strong radical feminist worldview, managed to find the grace in her report to excuse Michael’s alleged violence in the marriage and sleeping with a knife in the marital bed as merely “post traumatic stress disorder” and “cultural”, when the natural instinct in the women’s movement would be to howl for such a male’s blood. Yet in her report, Calvert doesn’t give Sharon, a white female Christian, the same benefit of the doubt and – without meeting her – diagnoses her as suffering from a “personality disorder” rather than Battered Wife Syndrome.
Yet the Calvert report was used in Court, yet again, to deny Sharon’s custody bid.

Margaret Craig, Rob Vigor-Brown and now forensic psychologist Gail Ratcliffe turned their guns on Calvert, on Chadwick and on the Family Court ruling. Eventually Chadwick’s role ended when proceedings were lodged in a different region, but his replacement as Counsel for the Child was another female lawyer, understood to be “very close” to Calvert.

We are not alleging in this article that merely because lawyers and psychologists are friends or know each other socially that anything wrong has actually taken place. However, like lawyer Rob Vigor-Brown, we are concerned that justice must be seen to be done, and perceived conflicts of interest are as serious to the administration of justice as real ones in terms of eroding public faith in the legal system.

Margaret Craig and Gail Ratcliffe perused handwritten poems and letters penned by Michael, looking for evidence about the man’s state of mind. One little ditty he wrote goes like this, “I want sex/Don’t come on the desk/Where my old man rests/You may shake this sweat off my chest.”

Another, apparently written before Teena’s birth:

“I vomit my own guilt/And flush (flash?) a smile/I transfer my crime/To an unborn child”.

There are other, more explicit writings. He wrote, for instance about the pleasure he got from masturbation, and violence. Slowly but surely, Sharon’s new support team managed to get increasing levels of access for her.


The purpose of this story, however, as we stated right at the beginning, is not to prove that sexual abuse took place. Instead, we hope we have illustrated in this extended
investigation that it was impossible to prove sexual abuse because of what we believe were fundamental errors of judgment by Counsel for the Child John Chadwick, exacerbated by an irascible Family Court judge. It is our opinion that those two men failed in their statutory responsibility to protect the child, by failing to properly ascertain whether the child was actually being harmed or not. While it is a welcome change to see courts supporting fathers, there is a now famous quote which says “Justice should be seen to be blind, not stupid.”
Justice is harmed when pendulums swing too far in either direction. For the record, John Chadwick was cleared of any wrongdoing by the two Law Society (local and national) investigations into Sharon’s complaints.

Hindsight eventually proved, however, that Sharon’s fears about her ex-husband’s background were correct – four years ago Michael became involved in a drug deal that went wrong and disappeared with an AK-47 rifle, leaving a girlfriend behind. The police alerted Sharon, and Michael eventually turned up outside Teena’s school some months later, planning to abduct her. As a result of this, he was forced to sign over full custody to Sharon.

Teena, now 14, suffers what psychologists call “intrusions” in her dreams centering on rape and sexual violence. She has not seen her father for several years. According to Sharon, he is now in the hospitality industry and addicted to methamphetamines.


Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)