Former residents of a home for troubled kids have launched a
$500,000 lawsuit against the Government for claims of
physical and sexual abuse.
Eleven former residents of The Glade in the inner Auckland
suburb of Epsom say the abuse included being pinned to the
ground for hours in a controversial "human straitjacket "
restraint known as a "Michael Whiting Hold".
The hold was among "unconventional" teaching methods promoted
at the time.
Drug-taking and sexual relationships between staff members
and residents were common, the Herald on Sunday has been
The Glade was home to some children who went on to become
criminals, most notoriously Antonie Dixon.
Dixon attacked Simonne Butler, Renee Gunbie and James Te Aute
in a P-fuelled samurai sword rampage, before killing himself
Some children never left the home: they died either by
committing suicide or in accidents while still living at The
The doors of the historic homestead were closed for the last
time in the late 1990s and it was razed in a suspected arson
Katharine Ross, from Wellington law firm Cooper Legal, said
former residents had approached her firm over a period of
"It's not a case of a bunch of seven mates coming to us and
saying we want you to act for us," she said. "It's more a
case of us joining the dots.
"It's not serious, serious sexual abuse but it's still enough
to warrant a claim being brought. As far as I'm aware none of
[the complainants] know each other."
A former supervisor - who is accused in court documents of
committing sexual abuse - denied any wrongdoing.
He said staff at social welfare homes were easy targets for
historic abuse cases.
"It seems to be the flavour of the day, a lot of that sort of
thing is coming out of the woodwork."
Many of the staff members were university students with no
formal training or qualifications, said former residents.
One, Donna Jamieson, said residents were subjected to
systematic abuse. Jamieson fell pregnant at the age of 16 to
another resident and was told: "You either have an abortion
or get out."
"They made my life hell," she said. She recently moved to
Australia and is not part of the court case, but said she had
suffered ongoing emotional trauma as a result of her
experiences at The Glade.
Father Felix Donnelly, the Catholic priest and former
talkback host who founded the home, said he was surprised the
historic abuse claims had been brought.
Now aged 83, Donnelly said he was familiar with the Michael
Whiting Hold but had never used it himself.
"We had to restrain children at times to preserve furniture
and people. They went wild. I personally never laid hands on
people but some of the staff would have."Donnelly said he
remembered allegations of abuse at the time - but they were
investigated and discounted.
"I would question the validity of the claims because I was
always open to speaking to them. We were very careful with
anything of the nature of what you are discussing. This is a
Ministry of Social Development historic claims chief analyst
Garth Young said The Glade was run by Youthlink although the
ministry did place young people in Youthlink homes.
"Accordingly, we have an obligation to investigate these
claims, which we are doing."
The ministry has received 1229 historic claims between 2004
and the end of August this year. It has paid out $6 million
to 297 people who were in a range of residences and private
- Bevan Hurley