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MENZ Issues February – March 1998: Volume 3 Issue 2

Education System Fails Boys

Separated Fathers Support Trust Men’s Centre volunteers help move to ‘Men’s Haven’.

Select Committee submissions on Battered Woman Syndrome Report on our attendance at Auckland hearings.

Shaping of New Zealand Boys A report on the inaugural seminar of Manukau Technical Institute Men’s Studies Course, presented by Professor David Ferguson, University of Canterbury.

Schoolboys Forced to Experience Sexual Harassment at Auckland School Outrageous example of social engineering

Male Teacher Numbers Fall 1995 Statistics from Ministry of Education

Males Fear False Abuse Allegations In her report "A Few Good men or a Few Too many?" Sarah Farquhar identifies why men avoid teaching careers.

False allegations by school children Is the increase due to prevention programmes?

Fathering the Future Conference Laurie O’Reilly’s death, plans for the March event.

Rape Crisis Workers Teaching in Schools What are your children being taught at school?

More Dubious Feminist Statistics Rape Crisis Claims a million sex assaults each year!

Serial False Accuser Becomes School "Health" Educator – A family history from the COSA files gives a unique insight into the background of a Rape Crisis worker.

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Education System Fails Boys

In January, the Listener, in an article titled "Girls on Top", pointed to research done by Roy Nash at Massey University that shows girls are now beating boys on almost every level, and that the gap in reading abilities is one of the highest in the world. He suggests that part of the explanation is the move away from competitive examinations towards continuous assesment.

This view is contradicted by researcher Marilyn Smith who claims that a small group of dominant boys control the classrooms to such an extent that they limit the knowledge available to the other boys. Nash explains that this theory leads to the situation where "in many schools it is the understood job of the fourth form dean to get rid of the kids they would rather not have".

The rapid decline of male teacher numbers, particularly at primary schools, leads many boys to decide that education is a female realm, and that to succeed is to be disloyal to their gender. As employment is increasingly knowlege-based, this attitude is likely to lead to higher levels of male unemployment in the future.

Australian academic Dr Geoffrey Partington recently reported to the Education Forum that after visiting many of New Zealand’s teacher training centres, he was disturbed by "the extent of ideological capture by groups holding views which are almost certainly not shared by the majority of the population." He found that the people who dominate educational theory aim to programme children with a specific set of social views, and that Marxist polemic often takes the place of sound educational theory. Inside, we discuss the current school environment and some of the factors contributing to the problem.

John Potter, Feburary 1998.

Separated Fathers Support Trust

In January, three volunteers with vehicles from the Men’s Centre North Shore committee helped this newly formed group move furniture into what will be Auckland’s only emergency accomodation for fathers. There has been a men’s house in the past. It was funded by Community Corrections which meant they had to accomodate men just out of prison. Too much wild celebrating led to complaints from neighbours and it had to close. The trust aims to provide an environment suitable for children, and intends to develop a range of support services. We are also helping them produce a brochure, and will no doubt send them clients in the future. For information contact Glen Thomas at (phone now disconnected)

JP.

More on Separated Fathers Support Trust here.

Select Committee Submissions made

On 28th Jan the Select Committee reporting on the Social Security (Conjugal Status) Amendment Bill travelled to Auckland to hear submissions on expanding the entitlement to the Domestic Purposes Benefit where "Battered Woman Syndrome" is present. Our primary concern is that this bill would enter BWS into New Zealand law by the "back door", from where it could be developed as a defence to criminal charges. Felicity Goodyear-Smith, Mark Rowley and Chuck Bird all made oral submissions to back up the written documents they sent at the end of last year.

Felicity’s objections were mainly scientific and ethical (refer to article in Dec 97 MENZ Issues here), and she made the point forcefully that family violence is perpetrated equally by men and women. At first the official advisers tried to claim that the term BWS wasn’t actually in the bill (presumably so that the legislation would appear gender-neutral). Steve Maharey MP commented that it was mentioned in the explanatory notes, and surely underpinned the basic intention of the amendment. It would certainly have to be defined in the protocols if Income Support staff were going to case manage women out of violent relationships. The officials then said its inclusion at all was "unfortunate" and that they "hadn’t thought it through". Lianne Dalzeil MP pointed out that all of the background discussion papers focused on BWS

Gail Ratcliffe, representing the New Zealand Psychological Society, claimed to have been involved as an expert witness in all N.Z. court cases involving BWS, so we were startled to hear her assure the committee that it is in fact an accepted psychiatric diagnosis, despite the fact that the most widely accepted list of psychiatric conditions (the American DSM4), does not include this syndrome. She also tried to undermine Felicity’s evidence by suggesting that all the research quoted was flawed because it did not ask who started the fight, with the implication that female violence is mostly self – defence. She did however agree that "learned helplessness" could apply to men too.

It was a little disconcerting to find that all the pro-feminist groups were also opposing the bill. Most of them felt that it was a knee-jerk reaction to the Court of Appeal decision to overturn a conviction for benefit fraud in the Ruka case, where a woman was found to be living with a man while collecting the DPB. Feminist groups felt that the Court decision was a good one and that the government was unnecessarily worried about a possible flood of women in relationships claiming benefits. In a future MENZ Issues we’ll have a closer look at the whole subject of welfare payments and their effects on our society (here).

Mark focused on the effect on families, and discussed Erin Pizzey’s theory about the dynamics of violent relationships. His submission will be in the next newsletter.

J.P.

Here: Social Security (Conjugal Status) Amendment Bill Men’s Centre North Shore’s Submission to Select Committee on Battered Woman Syndrome

Shaping of New Zealand Boys

Just over a year ago, several members of the Men’s Centre executive attended the inaugural seminar of Manukau Technical Institute Men’s Studies Course, presented by Professor David Ferguson, University of Canterbury.

Professor Ferguson opened his address by expressing his ambivalence at there being a Men’s Studies. However, though he does not think it sensible to stratify gender studies into Men and Women’s separate studies, he acknowledged the need to compromise, there already being a grave imbalance of Women’s Studies courses and Departments in our educational institutions.

Many measurements demonstrate that NZ men are severely disadvantaged compared to women. For example, in 1993 their (age standardised) risk of death was one and a half times that of women, especially due to increased risk of suicide, cancer, heart disease and motor vehicle accidents. In the past 2 decades women’s disadvantages have been highlighted and men’s obscured, a distortion created by many assumptions which have misled rather than enlightened attitudes and policy.

Professor Ferguson has been involved in the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a cohort study of 1265 babies born in 1977 (all the children born in Christchurch over a 4 month period). This sample has been studied at birth, age 4 months, one year then annually until age 16, then again at age 18 (they are now aged 19).

Boys failing at school

This study has produced a huge amount of information about men and women growing up in NZ in the 1980s and 1990s, but Professor Ferguson’s talk was about educational achievements. He found that in all comparisons (performance in reading, written expression, maths, teachers’ rating of children and outcome measures such as achieving school leaving certificates etc) boys aged 8 to 18 years did worse than girls. While the 1988 Royal Commission Report on Social Policy called for specific actions to advantage girls over boys because the girls "did not get a fair chance to develop their abilities", this current data indicates that it is the boys rather than the girls who are disadvantaged.

Boys on average also demonstrate more attention problems and disruptive behaviours than girls in the classroom, and when gender differences are controlled for by some sophisticated statistical calculations, it appears that boys are as smart as girls but it is the behaviour problems which impede their school achievement.

There has a been a recent stereotype of boys to be portrayed as universally aggressive and antisocial, whereas girls are seen as prosocial and non-violent. This has led to slogans such as "violence is a male problem" and "girls and women are victims". However Prof Ferguson demonstrated clearly that 87% of girls and boys behaviour on a violent-nonviolent continuum overlap, and it is only at the extremes that more boys are very antisocial and more girls socially compliant. To describe violence as a male problem is misleading and statistically inept, as about 25% of those excessively disruptive students will be girls.

Very few risks to an individual are specific to gender (for example, pregnancy or prostate cancer). Being male or female usually only adds to or detracts from one’s risk (for example, in children from a given background, being a boy only increases the risk of developing antisocial behaviours). He emphasised that the problem should be addressed by looking at ways to reduce behaviours which are counter-productive to learning in both girls and boys.

Prof Ferguson also criticised the current vogue of not describing the achievements of students (or lack thereof) as success or failure. He believes that language should still contain evaluative words such as "success" – ‘if we do not evaluate, we cease to think’.

Prof Ferguson expressed dismay that the educationalists who had called for action in the 1970s because they believed that girls were being disadvantaged, were strangely silent now that evidence showed the politically incorrect result that in fact it is boys and men who are missing out. He called for the current monologue about gender issues to become an academic dialogue, and for the debate to be based on evidence rather than ideology. He identified the strain between scholarship and activism, and how the demands of feminist ideology have over-ridden the demands of rational evidence-based debate.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith.

Schoolboys Forced to Experience Sexual Harrasment at School

Recently a class of Auckland high school boys were made to individually run a female gauntlet made up of jeering, taunting and sexually insulting girls. The boys were told that experiencing sexual harrassment in this way would make them more sensitive about the way they treated their female classmates. No doubt many of the boys found the exercise a big joke, but some did not. Despite the lack of evidence that male behaviour can be changed in this fashion, the teacher clearly understood that this social engineering experiment would have a significant impact of some kind on the boys, or the exercise wouldn’t have been carried out.

I wonder however, what might the effect of this experience be on boys who are insecure about their sexuality, self esteem or their relationships with women. There seems to have been no concern about the possible harm it might have caused to the group of boys who we know are already depressed, confused or even suicidal. Auckland is acknowledged to have one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world. Has any follow-up been done to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of these "lessons"? We do know the parents were not made aware of the kind of education their children were receiving at the local school.

There are some interesting assumptions being made by the people behind these programmes. Firstly, that the "saftey" of girls and women is so important that any attempt to stop harrassment is justified, no matter how ill-conceived or experimental. Surely any group that operates with the belief that "the end justifies the means" is dangerous to society and should not receive official sanction, much less access to public funding and resources.

Secondly, it is assumed that while females are so weak, helpless and unable to deal with insensitive / inexperienced males that these programmes are a necessary part of our education system, boys on the other hand are supposedly all strong, resilient and able to handle extremes of abuse far beyond what a girl might actually experience. Is this the message we want to send to young adults? Who benefits other than the organisations with the funding to carry out this kind of education?

We constantly hear the doctrine of "reverse discrimination", which justifies attacks on males on the basis that females have been so oppressed for so long that we now need to balance the score. Isn’t this the same as believing that two wrongs make a right? There have been hundreds of education inititives, programmes and scholarly papers produced over the last two decades designed to overcome the perceived disadvantage of girls in school. When are we going to see similar attention given to boys?

J.P.

Male Teacher Numbers Fall

Last year, Principals’ Federation president Marilyn Yeoman made a very valid point (Eduvac 2/9/96) expressing concern that current pay scales in primary schools will do nothing to attract or retain male teachers. She noted the declining percentages of male teachers in the primary and secondary sectors, using figures from the Ministry’s recent report for 1995, ie. 22% and 49% respectively.

A closer look at the figures over a period, however, reveals two alarming trends. First, in primary, from 1971 there has been a drop both in male teacher numbers and percentage from 38% to the current 22% and steadily dropping since 1976. But as well, the drop in secondary male teachers over the same period has been from 59% to the current 49% and accelerating over each of the past four years. (A measure of success of the recent secondary pay scales will be to see what happens to these figures.)

This means that children in New Zealand schools and colleges have a diminishing number of male teachers in their lives, at the same time as the number of families without fathers increases. Combined, these factors are, I believe, having serious and adverse repercussions on the development of boys and young men in this country.

Mark Rowley.

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Males Fear False Abuse Allegations

Massey University lecturer Sarah Farquhar interviewed 20 male and 20 female early childhood teachers. In her report "A Few Good men or a Few Too many?" she identified the cases of Peter Ellis (Christchurch Civic Centre worker jailed for 10 years in 1993) and Geoffrey Scott (Wellington Hospital childcare centre teacher jailed for seven years in 1994) as major reasons why men are avoiding work in kindergartens and childcare centres.

"Before 1990, being accused of sex abuse was not a fear. But since 1990, it has become a major concern for men in early childhood centres" she said. All 40 subjects in her study said the most relevant explanation for male under-representation was the fear of being falsely accused of child abuse. 55% of male teachers said they had been treated as child abusers, or made to feel like potential abusers. There is however no evidence that men in early childhood centres were more dangerous to children than women are.

F.G.Y.-S.

False Allegations by School Children

It is becoming increasingly common for school-aged children to make sexual allegations which are demonstrated to be false by police. For example, in Aug 1996 the Taranaki Daily News reported that Tauranga police dealt with 3 false sexual allegations by young girls in one month alone

An 8-year-old alleged that she had been approached in an alleyway by a man holding a doll and he had tried to get her into his car. She described her attacker in detail and the police treated it as a genuine crime until it became blatantly obvious that their time was being wasted.

A 12-year-old claimed a man had grabbed her through a bedroom window; that she had struggled and escaped to a neighbour’s place, but there was no evidence to corroborate her story.

A 13-year-old claimed she had been raped and the case was investigated until it was apparent that her story did not hold up.

The Court of Appeal also reversed a jury’s guilty verdict of a 16 year old girl who claimed rape, because the evidence did not support the allegation (Dominion, 3rd Sep 96). Similar cases of young girls making fraudulent claims have been reported in earlier COSA newsletters.

If this sort of problem is occurring through out NZ, a significant amount of police time will be being wasted, as well as the other problems such accusations might cause.

We can only hypothesise, but it is likely that "sexual abuse prevention" programmes in schools are giving children both the knowledge and the encouragement to report, and hence contribute to the rising number of false allegations of this nature.

F.G.Y.-S.

Fathering the Future Conference

Christchurch City councillor Garry Moore, who is chairman of the organising committee of the Fathering the Future conference in March, said Laurie O’Reilly sent him a fax on Tuesday, two days before he died from cancer. He was diagnosed in June, but he worked on from his Christchurch home and was especially keen on making Fathering the Future a success.

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Mr O’Reilly wanted people to know that the role of the father was an important part of society, and was working up to the last, seeking speakers from all over the world for the forum. The city council’s children’s advocate, Lyn Campbell, said that the forum would work in partnership with the Fathers Who Care, a joint project of the Commission for Children and Save the Children Fund. She hoped the forum will raise the awareness of the importance of the role of fathers and "a need for a change in our culture to one of responsible nurturing of fathering in the parenting role".

Caring Fathers Group co-ordinator Don Rowlands said "Laurie was prepared to speak his truth from the heart at the risk of not being politically correct or upsetting people in high places. His life and work challenges fathers to take responsibility and make a positive difference in the lives of our children." The Christchurch-based group plans to commemorate Mr O’Reilly’s life at its January 26 meeting was to discuss ways to promote the continuation of his work. The Caring Fathers group is a group of mainly non-custodial fathers giving support to each other. They are run by the Home and Family Society (PO Box 287 Ch.Ch.), meet monthly and frequently invite speakers. They are a member of the Father & Child Trust, but have a more political orientation.

The Father & Child Trust (PO Box 26040 Christchurch), sent out its first newsletter in December. The publication has news about the conference, details about the formation of the trust, and articles "by fathers for fathers". There are already moves to establish a branch in Palmerston North. When I asked Harald Breiding-Buss what the Father and Child Trust knew about the Fathering the Future Forum he replied:

"I’m involved on all levels, much to my own surprise, but it’s a real mess at the moment. The March event will be much more local than originally planned, but there will be an international conference probably on Fathers Day in September. The present concept provides for 3 stand-alone fora on March 27 (Friday):

  • Cultural Forum, provided by Race Relations Office, focussing on the role of fathers as transmitters of cultural values
  • Youth Forum – they still need to find someone to take this one on
  • Family Law Forum

On Saturday there will be workshops and the Father & Child Trust will probably have to provide most of them. Two keynote speakers on that day, one Ian Poole, professor of demographics, the other yet to be found. In the evening there will be a dinner to launch a new Trust, targeted at business leaders and to raise money. Speakers at this dinner are people like John Hart, Sean Fitzpatrick and Jenny Shipley".

There appear two main views at present regarding N.Z. fathers. One is that they are dodging their responsibilities and should be compelled and shamed to play (or at least pay) a part. The Government Coalition policy on child support is "To make parents who desert their families take greater responsibility for their children".

The other view is that there are a large number of obstacles placed in the way of many fathers which prevent them participating as much as they would like. It will be interesting to see which line the conference is going to take.

J.P.

More on Caring Fathers here.

More on Father & Child Trust here.

Rape Crisis Workers Teaching in Schools

What is particularly alarming about the case study outlined below is that Katherine, one of the complainants whose repeated false allegations were not sustained by the Court, is now educating school children in her region about sexual abuse issues. With no formal counselling credentials, her only qualification appears to be her own history of allegations that both she and her children are past victims of sexual abuse.

As a member of her local Rape Crisis, she teaches students about sexual abuse and invites them to contact her should they have had sexual experiences they wish to disclose. It is unlikely that the principals of these schools are aware of her background and her qualifications, or lack of them, to instruct in this field.

Health is the only compulsory subject in the High School curriculum. It is also of low status amongst teachers. Principals and teachers alike are pleased and relieved when outside agencies offer their services to instruct in this field. Many of the topics covered under this broad subject are dealt with sensibly and practically. For example, health includes subjects such as safety skills on the road; good nutrition and life-style choices such as alcohol and tobacco use.

However, using outside instructors opens the way for students to be exposed to misinformation and indoctrination of the belief system of the agency or individual who is giving the course. Many parents would be horrified to discover what their children are being taught in some of these sessions.

Secondary School Health Educators

I do not wish to imply that all Health Educators in schools are completely untrained. Some training is available, but this is not necessarily reassuring. I have recently been given a training manual entitled "Sexual Abuse and the Role of Health Education" which was given out to Secondary School Health Educators. This document reinforces the dangerous message that the most important thing to do is believe the child whenever an allegation of sexual abuse is made. It contains a list of "Indicators of Sexual Abuse" of young people aged 13 and up which includes: not being allowed to go out on dates; have chronic ailments such as stomach aches and headaches; be fearful of undressing for gym; have unexplained sums of money; be anorexic or use drugs or alcohol to excess.

Health educators are advised to set up support groups for girls who claim to have been sexually abused. The students should be taught about sexual harassment and then told there is another issue "which is usually kept secret and which about ¼ of the class will have experienced". The aims of the group, times and place should be discussed then "just sit back and see if… you get up to a third of the girls you have talked to". Groups should be run during class time so that the girls do not miss any leisure time.

F.G.Y.-S.

More Dubious Feminist Statistics

Rape Crisis has recently published their 1992-1996 statistics in a summary entitled "Rape & Sexual Abuse in New Zealand". They claim that only 1 in 10 rapes are reported; of these 1 in 10 get to court, and only 10% of these result in convictions. These figures are at variance with police figures published last year which indicated that approximately 50% of complaints to them result in charges being laid, with about 50% of those going to court leading to convictions.

From the media report of the publication, it appears that Rape Crisis assume that everyone who makes an allegation about sexual abuse to them is a genuine victim, and they do not appear to acknowledge the problem of those who knowingly make false complaints, and those who sincerely but wrongly claim they have been abused.

F.G.Y.-S.

Comments from Gordon Waugh:

This Rape Crisis statistical report is hyperbole of the worst kind. The annual Ministry of Justice report "Convicting and Sentencing of Offenders" is the definitive document on prosecution and conviction realities. During the 1992-96 years, there were about 7,300 prosecutions nation-wide for all forms of sexual crime, resulting in about 4,200 convictions.

Rape Crisis say that it is a generally accepted estimate that only one in ten rapes is reported. Accepted by whom? Rape Crisis would have us believe that only 10% of 10% of 10% of rape and sexual abuse cases result in convictions. A simple test of that "logic" is to apply it to factual data.

The actual number of convictions (4,200) represents in Rape Crisis terms, 10% of those which got to court. Therefore 42,000 went to court. But these are only 10% of the reported crimes, therefore 420,000 were reported. Nine out of ten cases go unreported, they claim. Therefore the total number of incidents in that brief period is over four million.

Applying Rape Crisis figures solely to rape cases, claimed incidents in the 1992-96 period would be then be about 750,000 rapes……. Hmmm!

Serial False Accuser Becomes School ‘Health’ Educator

wpe23.jpg (4945 bytes) A Family History

This true story from the COSA files gives a unique insight into the family background of a school "health" educator employed by Rape Crisis. names have been changed.

Victor and Yvonne, a couple in their 60s, brought up their family in New Zealand but moved overseas in 1980. They have 9 adult children, 5 girls and 4 boys, aged between 23 and 42 years old.

Katherine

In late 1980 their 5th daughter, Katherine, moved overseas with her husband Clive and their children. In 1992 she separated from Clive and returned to New Zealand, a solo mother with 5 children and pregnant with her 6th. She then made allegations to the Police that Clive had sexually abused their children, and took them to a local psychology centre for assessment and counselling.

The Director of the Centre, Freda, wrote a report about 5 of the children. 3 year old Larry claimed his father had tied him up in the shed and put his penis in his mouth. He also claimed that his father had tied up his 6 year old sister Nola and done something involving the use of Vaseline on her bottom. Nola claimed this had not happened to her but she had seen it happen to Larry. She claimed 4 incidents of abuse to herself including her father putting his penis into her mouth and into her vagina. She demonstrated these activities with anatomically correct dolls. 5 year old Tanya claimed she had been made to suck her father’s penis and other indecencies "heaps of times".

11 year old Simon was interviewed by Freda twice, but he said he had never been sexually abused by his father or anyone else, and had no knowledge of the alleged abuse happening to his younger brother and sisters. Freda did not interview 2 year old Ken, but watched him at play. Freda described all the children as showing signs of stress, which she believed were indicators of sexual abuse. She gave the opinion that all the events described by the children were true. The police were contacted overseas, the case investigated, but the police decided that the charges were unfounded.

Between December 1992 and March 1993 Victor and Yvonne visited New Zealand and stayed with Katherine in her home. Katherine had had a close relationship with her parents and until March 1993, she had been writing to her parents with letters ending with endearments such as "Love you both very, very much. God bless always", and "Take care – love you both HEAPS". About this time Katherine started to attend counselling for herself, and visited the local Rape Crisis Centre.

In 1993, Katherine formed a de facto relationship with Douglas, and was soon pregnant to him. Douglas was the former husband of her younger sister, Elizabeth, with whom he had had 2 children. Victor and Yvonne were involved in selling Katherine’s house overseas, and the proceeds were used to buy a house with Douglas. Victor did not approve either of the new property, or of Yvonne’s choice of new partner, and voiced his disapproval. This was the beginning of a "falling out" between Katherine and her father.

Gwen

Victor and Yvonne’s 4th child Gwen is 3 years older than Katherine, and has a very troubled history. She had married Harry and had 4 children. In 1981 the family visited Victor and Yvonne at their home overseas and later lived with them for a year. In 1983 and 84 the two families were neighbours, and from September 1986 until October 1987 Gwen again moved in with her family to live with her parents.

In 1988 Gwen was diagnosed as suffering from delusional beliefs. She began to develop progressively more bizarre behaviour, and in 1989 was admitted to hospital for psychiatric care. Harry tried to cope with looking after a mentally disturbed wife as well as four young children and maintain a full-time job, but in late 1989 Gwen and Harry separated. Since that time they have had ongoing court proceedings regarding the custody of their 4 children.

In late 1994 Gwen wrote to her sister Katherine that she had had a lot of counselling and that their father Victor "is an abuser, I know this". In January 1995 Gwen visited Katherine and told her that their father used to rape her. Gwen also rang her mother overseas and told her about the allegations.

Victor accused

In February 1995 Victor and Yvonne came to New Zealand for a holiday and stayed with one of their unmarried sons, Andrew. In March, two of Katherine’s daughters, Nola aged 9 and Mary aged 8, stayed with their grandparents and their uncle for several days. During that that month, Victor was told that both Katherine and Gwen were claiming that he had sexually abused them as children. Victor adamantly denied these allegations. He went to the local police station to report that his daughters were making these false allegations and that he wanted the matter investigated.

In April 1995, Gwen made a statement to the police about her father’s alleged abuse during her childhood. She said that she had suffered violent sexual and physical abuse from about the age of 3 until she was 14 years old. She said that a lot of her memories had been suppressed at the time because the abuse was so horrific, but she had been seeing a counsellor who had helped he bring out and talk about her memories.

In May, Katherine also made a statement to the police claiming that Victor had indecently assaulted her and sodomised her between the years of 1964 and 1974 (from ages 4 to 14 years). The assaults were said to take place in her bed at night, in a room where 2 of her sisters and a bother also slept. She also described considerable physical violence on a regular basis. Katherine had never disclosed any sexual abuse by her father until she had been told by Gwen what was supposed to have happened to her.

Katherine furthermore stated that some of her own children were now claiming that Victor had abused them as well. The children were said to be displaying "indicators of abuse". Ken aged 4, was describing a game involving Victor’s penis and also claimed he had seen his 2 year old sister Jane "ride" on Victor’s penis. 8 year old Mary was talking about sexual abuse but had not "openly disclosed an actual incident" but it was again Nola, now aged 9, who was giving specific details of being abused. Nola underwent a videotape evidential interview. When asked about how she felt about her grandfather, she said "He’s nice". However under direct questioning she claims that he "put his hands on my pants" but then says this was her father. Later she says that her grandfather "pulled my pants down and he touched me. Mum says its called sexual abuse".

Victor Charged

In May 1995 Victor was charged with 10 charges of rape, sodomy and indecent assault against 2 daughters and a grand-daughter. His passport was seized and he was released on bail. This meant that he and Yvonne could not return home and had to remain in New Zealand, having to report to the local police station regularly and living with their son Andrew.

Yvonne, Andrew and other brothers and sisters of Katherine and Gwen all stated that they knew these things could never have happened, and that they had not been party to or the victims of the sort of regular attacks that were claimed.

Victor acquitted

The following month, Victor was acquitted by a District Court judge without having to stand trial. The judge referred to the Family Court judgement involving Gwen which had taken place in February. He expressed concerns that Gwen’s history made him gravely concerned about her "reliability as a witness and the inability demonstrated to the Court to distinguish between real and unreal", and noted that "there is no independent corroboration of any of the allegations".

The judge also commented on the fact that Katherine was corresponding lovingly with her parents until shortly before she made the allegations, which is clearly not consistent with someone who has suffered such horrendous ongoing abuse.

Victor and Yvonne have now returned to their home overseas. Whilst relieved that the court proceedings are over, it has not been a time of celebration for them. A holiday visiting family in New Zealand had turned into an eleven month nightmare for them. Although Victor has retained his freedom, the shattered family bonds are very painful to them both.

Both Katherine and Gwen, together with their families, had spent considerable time living with or along side their parents, and Victor and Yvonne grieve the loss of children and grandchildren with whom they used to have close loving relationships. Once the acute stress was passed, Yvonne became depressed and ill for some time, but they are now both getting on with their lives and maintain good friendships with the children who have stood by them.

Katherine – School Health Educator

Katherine is now a senior member of her local Rape Crisis. As discussed earlier, she is involved in instructing school children about sexual abuse issues and encouraging them to disclose abuse to her. Because the courts ordered name suppression for both defendants and complainants in this case, it is difficult for the authorities involved to be informed about this state of affairs.

F.G.Y.-S.

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