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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care
CYC-Online Issue 35 DECEMBER 2001 / BACK
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postcard from leon fulcher

From New Zealand's South Island

December 2001

Hello from Timaru on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island! Its in an area known as mid-Canterbury that has a rich colonial heritage. European Catholics, Presbyterian Scots and Church of England settlers came to this rich fertile land that was sparsely settled by Ngai Tahu Maori in the early-19th Century.

Timaru Court House: Youth, Family, District and High Court

The reason for my visit was to attend and give evidence as an expert witness in the High Court trial reported in the Timaru Herald on 06.11.2001 under the headline:

Man Seeking $3.5m for Abuse as a Foster Child

"A former foster child is suing the Government for $3.5 million for the alleged sexual, physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a child. The man, now in his 40s, told the High Court at Timaru yesterday of being sexually abused by the intellectually handicapped son of his foster father and of other abuse he received from his foster parents in the 1960s and 1970s. The man, who has interim name suppression, is suing the Attorney-General for general damages of $500,000 and exemplary damage of $200,000, on each of five matters: breach of fiduciary duty, breach of statutory duty, negligence, assault and battery (vicariously liable) and negligence (vicariously liable). It is the first time such a civil action has proceeded this far in a New Zealand court. When the plaintiff was five months old his mother became ill and he and several siblings were placed in care. About a year later his natural parents indicated they wanted their offspring to be adopted by a couple and so the children were placed in the care of these foster parents by the Child Welfare division of the Education Service. As the couple could not financially afford to adopt them, they fostered them instead and received a payment from the department.”

CJ found many Timaru children his age died in the early 1960s.

“The plaintiff said that from the age of about 4 he could recall violence, yelling, crying and screaming in the household. At about the age of 5 he was sexually abused by the adult son of his foster father. Such abuse happened numerous times, he said. The foster parents separated before he was 6 and the mother and children shifted away. Soon after the move the woman began a habit of bursting into the bathroom when the children were having a bath, telling them to get out and stating that they were “due for their weekly". She would then thrash them on their bare backs and legs with a black leather studded dog collar. The plaintiff can remember seeing black and red stripes the width of the dog collar on his skin. The thrashings became more severe as he got older. They didn’t stop until he was about 14 and strong enough to fend her off, so she used curtain wire. The woman and children shifted house many times, and the man told the court of the disgusting conditions of some of the properties. One house was so small he had to share a bed with the woman when he was about nine. She repeatedly had him perform indecencies on her. It happened again a couple of years later when he again had to sleep with her. As a teenager he was sent to an Adventist College in the North Island, and when his “mother" refused to pay his school fees, the principal arranged for him to work at a cereal company after school and in the holidays to pay for his fees.” – NZPA

No matter how worrisome the events in our world may be we pray that the Peace will be upon CJ and his family, and with you and yours during this time of fasting and prayer, preparing for Hanukkah the Festival of Light, for the Light of the World, for Hogmanay, Deepaavali and the Moon Festival. My last photo for the year shows the Scottish Hall in Timaru advertising Housie! Good luck! Auld Lang Syne!

Timaru Scottish Hall: Wishing you and yours the very best for 2002!

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