Howard Broad -
On Thurs 1 October 1992, Detective Inspector Howard Broad of Christchurch announced to a packed press conference that four women child care workers had been arrested in the Christchurch Civic Creche case [Press, 2 Oct 92]. He named the women and described the shocking charges they faced jointly with the already-demonised Peter Ellis (who had been arrested 6 months earlier):
“They [three of the women] are accused of sexually violating a boy by having unlawful sexual connection with him; indecent assault on the same boy, who was then aged three and four; Indecent assault on another boy, then aged three and four; and indecent assault on a girl, then aged three and four.
“The fourth woman ... is charged that jointly with Ellis she wilfully did an indecent act in the toilets at the creche some time between April 1, 1989, and October 31, 1991.”
The charges against the women were dismissed pre-trial. My research [A City Possessed, 2001] established that the allegations were the product of the ritual abuse hysteria sweeping Christchurch at the time. Police officers in the grip of this hysteria made the grossly unprofessional mistake of treating rumour and innuendo as established fact.
Howard Broad’s press conference in October 1992 destroyed the careers and previously unblemished reputations of four well-qualified, experienced and dedicated child care workers.
Since then, calls for a commission of inquiry into the creche case have been rejected by government. Consequently, none of the officials involved have learnt anything from the mistakes made. Indeed, because they have never had to admit to making any mistakes, many of them have repeated he same mistakes, over and over again. With Howard Broad’s appointment as the country’s top police officer, there is a real risk that ongoing damage caused to the fabric of New Zealand society by sex abuse hysteria and false allegations will continue unabated.