Home' Greymouth Star : March 25th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, March 25, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1306 - Robert de Bruce is crowned king of
1807 - Britain abolishes the slave trade.
1911 - A re at the Triangle Shirtwaist Co
factory in New York kills 146 female workers,
an event that galvanises America's
1947 - A coal mine explosion in
Centralia, Illinois claims 111 lives.
1949 - Laurence Olivier's Hamlet
wins ve Oscars. It is the rst
Academy Award-winning British
1956 - US boxer Sugar Ray Robinson wins
a 15-round split decision over Carmen Basilio
to win the middleweight title for a record fth
1957 - Belgium, France, West Germany,
Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sign
the Treaty of Rome establishing the European
Common Market, later to evolve into the
1966 - Five climbers become rst to reach
summit of Mt Eiger in Swiss Alps.
1975 - Saudi Arabia's King Faisal is
assassinated in Riyadh by nephew.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Anne Bronte, English novelist (1820-1849);
David Lean, English lm director (1908-
1991); Bernard King, Australian
Gloria Steinem, US feminist-editor
(1934-); Aretha Franklin, US singer
(1942-); Paul Michael Glaser, US
actor (1943-); Elton John, English
entertainer-songwriter (1947-); Nick
Lowe, English singer (1949-); James
McDaniel, US actor of NYPD Blue
fame (1958-); Sarah Jessica Parker, US actress
(1965-); Melanie Blatt, British singer (1975-).
"We do not do what we want and yet we
are responsible for what we are --- that is the
fact." --- Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin
for us, so that in Him we might become the
righteousness of God." --- (Cor 5:21).
West Coast members
and former members
of the Nelson-
Marlborough and West Coast Regiment went
to Nelson on Saturday to attend a reunion
to mark the passing of the regiment. e
reunion was the last o cial function of the
regiment which has now been merged with
the Canterbury Regiment into the Second
New Zealand Infantry Regiment. e unit will
o cially cease to exist on midnight March 31.
About 380 past and present members of the
regiment attended the reunion which was held
in the Nelson Drill Hall.
e Greymouth police have reached the
conclusion that the parts of an aircraft found
washed up on the beach at Camerons at the
weekend de nitely belong to the Cessna plane
which crashed into the sea at Greens Beach, 30
miles south of Hokitika, in mid-February.
Firm identi cation has now been made by
the discovery of further sections of wreckage
in the same area. One of the latest sections
handed in to the Greymouth police station
has printed on it the words "Cessna Aircraft
Company". is crash, on February 7, was
the one in which 28-year-old Hokitika pilot
Geo rey Meldrum Houston, the sole occupant,
lost his life.
e Greymouth Club rink skipped by Ernie
Barrow annexed the West Coast champion of
champions fours title on the Blaketwon green
in the two-day tournament at the weekend.
Playing with Tom Lawson, Les Wicks and
Sam McKay, the rink defeated Dobson 21-15
in the nal.
Earlier they had a close call against
Blaketown, winning 23-22 on an extra end.
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
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Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
On an internet forum
where parents sought
takers for adopted
children they no longer
wanted, a teenager from
Haiti was o ered more
frequently than any other girl.
Starting at age 14, Nita Dittenber was
passed among four families over two
years through a practice called "private
In September, Reuters exposed an
underground market in which desperate
parents use on-line bulletin boards to
o er adoptees to strangers, often illegally
and with no government oversight. e
internet forums, including the Yahoo group
where Nita was advertised, can enable
abusers to acquire children easily; in one
case, a paedophile in Illinois took home a
10-year-old boy hours after an ad for the
child was posted on-line.
In the last home where Nita was sent,
re-homing ser ved a di erent purpose,
Ohio prosecutors contend. ey say it was
used to silence Nita and another girl in an
e ort to conceal the repeated sexual abuse
For 17 months --- from early 2011 until
July 2012 --- Nita lived in the Ohio city
of Marysville with Jean Paul and Emily
Kruse. Jean Paul was an information-
technology specialist with the Ohio
National Guard. Emily was a stay-at-home
mother. e Kruses were the fourth family
to take custody of her in America.
Not long after she was sent there, Nita
says, the younger Kruse children told her
they were being molested by Jean Paul.
Nita says she struggled for months over
whether to speak up about the allegations,
fearing she would be thrown out of the
house and sent to yet another set of
strangers if she did.
"I didn't want to get passed around any
more," Nita, now 18, says in an interview.
Months later, according to criminal
charges led in Union County Court here,
Emily Kruse abruptly put Nita on a ight
back to her original adoptive parents in
Idaho --- alone and "with only the clothes
on her back."
e reason: Kruse discovered that Nita
had told relatives of the Kruses about the
abuse accusations. Prosecutors say Emily
sent Nita away to ensure the teen "would
not be around to answer questions or
participate in the resulting investigation."
ey say another girl --- an alleged victim
of the abuse --- was also threatened by
Emily with re-homing unless she wrote a
letter saying her accusations against Jean
Paul were "not true."
Jean Paul Kruse, 41, has pleaded not
guilty to 17 felony criminal counts,
including raping two of his daughters and
sexually abusing another daughter. He and
his attorney did not respond to interview
requests. Emily Kruse, 36, has pleaded
not guilty to felony charges of obstructing
justice and intimidating a witness. She
declined to comment; her attorney did not
respond to questions.
Since the late 1990s, Americans have
adopted about 243,000 children from other
countries. If the failure rate of international
adoptions is similar to the rate at which
domestic adoptions fail --- estimates by the
federal government range from about 10%
to 25% --- then more than 24,000 foreign
adoptees are no longer with the parents
who brought them to America.
No government agency tracks what
happens to these children after they
reach America, and none monitors how
frequently children are transferred to
strangers via the Internet. But on a single
on-line message board examined by
Reuters-a Yahoo group called Adopting-
from-Disruption --- a child was o ered
for re-homing about once a week during a
ve-year period. Most of the children were
adopted from overseas. One was Nita.
After Reuters published messages from
the Yahoo group, Nita's adoptive aunt
began reading the posts. Reporters had
removed names and other identifying
information. But Tammy Dittenber says
she quickly recognised that some of the
messages were about Nita, based on details
about her age, nationality and state of
Tammy says she knew that Nita's
adoptive parents --- her in-laws, Tony and
Michelle Dittenber --- had sent Nita to
other families. But Tammy says she had no
idea how until she read the posts.
"I said, 'Oh my God! All the puzzle
pieces are coming into focus'," Tammy
Dittenber recalls. I realised she had been
re-homed the way you re-home a pet."
Re-homing a child is easy. No State or
Federal laws speci cally prohibit it, and
State laws that restrict the advertising and
custody transfers of children are often
confusing and rarely spell out criminal
An agreement among the 50 United
States called the Interstate Compact on the
Placement of Children, or ICPC, is meant
to ensure that child welfare authorities
oversee custody transfers, review
prospective parents and account for what
happens to children sent from one state to
another. Many law-enforcement o cials
--- including police who investigated the
Kruse case --- have never heard of the
Even so, Ohio State o cials say
prosecuting the Kruses for breaching
the pact would be futile. " ere are no
sanctions or criminal penalties in Ohio
for violating the ICPC," said Benjamin
Johnson, a deputy director of the State's
Department of Job and Family Services.
Authorities handling the Kruse cases are
now calling for State measures to address
re-homing, and other states have already
taken action in response to the Reuters
In Illinois, lawmakers held a hearing on
the practice, and Colorado, Florida and
Wisconsin are moving for ward with bills
aimed at stopping re-homing. "We need
to protect kids who are literally being
traded between homes," said Republican
State Representative Joel Klee sch, who
sponsored the Wisconsin bill. e State
Senate passed the measure this week, and it
now awaits the governor's signature. " is
legislation puts Wisconsin on the national
forefront of addressing re-homing and
attacking it head on," Klee sch said.
At the federal level, a group of 18
Republican and Democratic members of
Congress is seeking hearings to "identify
ways to prevent these dangerous practices."
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, called
for broad action in a letter to Obama
administration o cials, writing that it was
"stunning" that "this practice of advertising
children, usually over State borders, does
not seem to violate any federal laws."
Yahoo shut down the re-homing groups
that Reuters brought to its attention, and
the Illinois attorney general is pressing
Facebook to explain how the social
network polices itself. Reuters found
that adoptive parents also were o ering
unwanted children there on a private page
called Way Stations of Love. In a January
21 letter responding to the Attorney
General's inquiries, Facebook said it had
found "no evidence of the type of pages
you described" but that "if people were
discussing the activity in closed groups or
in private messages, we do not know about
those communications unless they are
reported to us."
Born Nita Durand and raised in Port-
au-Prince, Haiti, Nita still speaks with
a trace of a Haitian accent. She says her
birth parents were poor and sent her to an
orphanage when she was nine, hoping she
would have a better life than they had.
In 2009, Tony and Michelle Dittenber
adopted her and brought her to their home
in Nampa, Idaho, just outside Boise. Tony
helps operate a food warehouse. Michelle
books ights for an airline.
Nita was 13 at the time. She became one
of nine Dittenber children, four biological
and ve adopted, including Nita's younger
biological sister. Each of the adoptees is
e Dittenbers and Nita clashed from
the start. Nita had "behavioural issues,"
Tony Dittenber says. Nita says she thought
the Dittenbers were harsh and treated her
After the family tried without success
to get help from social ser vice agencies,
Michelle says she turned to the internet.
She had read o ers for children in the on-
line forums. "My rst thought was, 'How
can people do this?' " Dittenber says. " en
as I read through it and read people's
stories and what they had been through, I
In August 2010, Michelle posted a
message on the Yahoo group Adopting-
from-Disruption. Her pro le name:
"I have a 14 year old daughter I adopted
from Haiti," she wrote. "Unfortunately we
are needing to nd a new family for her.
Where do we start?"
It was the rst of several times Michelle
o ered Nita on the Yahoo group. In
her posts, Michelle portrayed Nita as a
"bully" with an "attitude of entitlement."
e girl "lies" and is "manipulative," she
wrote, but "does love little kids very
much" and has "a soft spot for elderly
people as well."
Each time they transferred custody of
Nita, the Dittenbers used a notarised
power of attorney document stating that
Nita was now in the care of the new family,
Tony says. No social workers or attorneys
were involved, he says, and there was no
o cial vetting of the parents taking in
Nita says she did not know that she had
been advertised on the sites until her aunt
read the Reuters report and told her about
it. "I didn't really know what was going on,"
Nita says. "I had no clue about where I was
going to live and for how long."
e rst two families to take Nita --- one
in Ohio, another in Idaho --- sent her back
to the Dittenbers.
en, Nita was sent to the Kruse home
in Marysville. It was her third move in less
than a year. She was 15.
It seemed like a good option. Michelle
says that the rst Ohio family who had
taken in Nita knew and vouched for the
In 2008, the couple also had been pro led
in a heartwarming story distributed by the
Ohio National Guard, headlined 'Nine
is enough?' e article described how the
Kruses happily scrambled to care for their
At the time, the story said, the Kruses
had ve biological children --- four from
previous marriages --- and four adopted
overseas. A photo showed a grinning Jean
Paul tickling one of the adopted children, a
girl born in Liberia.
"We wanted a girl because they have it so
hard there," the story quotes him as saying.
" ey are often raped and molested from a
very young age."
Within weeks of arriving at the Kruse
place, Nita alleges, several young girls in
the home told her they were being sexually
abused by Jean Paul. She says she was not
abused herself but was terri ed to come
forward. It took her about nine months to
share the allegations with Emily, she says.
When she nally did, Nita says, Emily
accused her of lying and promised to put
her on a plane back to Idaho if she told
Nita kept silent for another eight months.
"I was like, 'I'm not about to ruin this one,'
" Nita says. e stress of being sent from
family to family was overwhelming, she
says: She su ered an eating disorder and
en, in July 2012, Nita and two of the
girls were visiting with a Kruse family
relative. Nita says she recalls feeling glum
that day, burdened by what the young girls
were continuing to tell her. e relative
asked her why she looked so down. Nita
told her of the alleged abuse, and then the
other girls told their stories.
e relative took Nita and the girls to
see other family members, Nita says, and
they went over the allegations again. In
court documents, authorities describe what
happened next: After learning that the
abuse allegations had come to light, Emily
picked up Nita at a local hospital where
the teen was working as a volunteer. Emily
then took Nita directly to the nearby
airport in Columbus.
Emily "did not tell the child where
she was going and did not permit her to
pack her clothing or other belongings,"
prosecutors allege in court documents.
At the airport, they say, she ordered
Nita to get on a ight to Boise so that
the girl could not be questioned in any
investigation of Jean Paul. e move was so
abrupt, they allege, that Emily did not give
the Dittenbers advance notice that Nita
was heading back to Idaho.
e Dittenbers were away on holiday
at the time, so they asked Tony's brother
and sister-in-law, Michael and Tammy
Dittenber, to pick up Nita. When Nita
walked o the plane, she "looked lost and
really confused," Tammy wrote in a police
statement as part of the Kruse criminal
cases. "She said she had nothing. No
suitcase, du e bag, carry on, nothing."
Almost immediately, Michelle Dittenber
again began o ering Nita for re-homing.
In a July 24, 2012, post on the Yahoo
group, Michelle blamed Nita for the
rupture with the Kruses.
" e last straw with the last family was
her making allegations that the dad in the
family was sexually molesting all the kids
but her," Michelle wrote. "I would love to
be done with her permanently."
Soon, however, child welfare workers and
police began to investigate the Kruses. In
August 2012, 10 children were removed
from their home.
Later that summer, police in Nampa,
Idaho, interviewed Nita as part of the
investigation. Sergeant Don Peck says
he never looked into how Nita came to
live with the Kruses. He says he had no
reason to believe her custody transfer was
improper, despite an Idaho State law that
prohibits anyone without a State licence
from advertising children for adoptions.
Jean Paul Kruse is scheduled for trial in
May; Emily Kruse is scheduled for trial in
July. e two no longer live together, and
some of the couple's children have been
returned to Emily's care.
Eventually, the Dittenbers sent Nita to
Mercy Ministries, a Nashville residential
treatment centre for troubled girls.
In December, Nita received a certi cate
for completing the programme. In her
eight months at Mercy Ministries, she says,
she recovered from her eating disorder
and regained a sense of self-worth, making
friends and bonding with sta .
Michelle, who says she now regrets her
decisions to re-home Nita, travelled to
Nashville for the graduation ceremony. For
the rst time, Michelle discussed with Nita
how she had used the internet to seek new
families for her.
"I was like, I do understand that you
needed help; but there could have been
murderers or killers," Nita says. "You don't
know those people. I could have been
Michelle says she told Nita that "she
always has the option to come back home"
Nita has no such plans. Today, she is
living outside Nashville with Sandra
Booker, a nurse she met through church.
With Booker's help, Nita intends to nish
her education and "focus on the future."
Her ambition, she says, is to return to Haiti
and work with orphans.
With two grandfathers gassed in the
trenches of the Great War, and a father
who battled Nazis at El Alamein, Rick
Ottaway never consciously made a career
Raised in a military family, at a time in
New Zealand when every household had
in some way been a ected by war, he just
"kind of gravitated" into the army.
But little would he realise that it would
come to consume his life.
Brigadier Rick Ottaway has just retired
from the New Zealand Defence Force
after a staggering 51 years' of service.
It makes him one of the Army's longest
ever ser ving members.
"His is one of only a handful of careers
I could mention which demonstrate such
loyal and lengthy service to our country,"
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant
General Tim Keating said in tribute of
e 66-year-old has seen many changes,
most for the best.
e soldier saw action Vietnam, two
post-war postings to the old colonial
"fortress" Singapore, and training postings
in Australia. He even spent time working
at the New Zealand High Commission
But most recently, he served as the
General Manager of Veterans' A airs
New Zealand (VANZ) and Secretary for
His work in what is the most signi cant
rewrite of veterans' legislation in 60 years,
the Veterans' Support Bill, would be a
"lasting legacy of support" for thousands
of current and future veterans, Veterans'
A airs Minister Michael Woodhouse
" e fact that Rick's public ser vice has
spanned more than 50 years speaks for
itself," Mr Woodhouse said.
"From Vietnam, to Veterans' A airs, he
has served New Zealand with impeccable
honour and loyalty." Mr Ottaway was
born in Auckland on Waitangi Day,
1948. He attended Mt Roskill Grammar
School and enlisted with the amy in 1964
as a cadet with the Regular Force Cadet
School at Waiouru.
"I guess I just gravitated towards it. It
just seemed like a good thing to do," he
told APNZ this week, re ecting on his
"It was an attraction. School cadets,
like so many other young men, sparked
my enthusiasm." He attended o cer
cadet school and graduated into the New
Zealand Army Service Corps in the rank
of second lieutenant in 1968.
After he was commissioned, he went o
to Singapore and served with the infantry
battalion before being posted to Vietnam
for a 12-month tour of duty in 1971-72.
He was with the 1st New Zealand Army
Training Team that advised and mentored
the South Vietnamese Army, based where
the Mekong River crosses the Cambodian
border into south Vietnam.
At the time, the Americans and their
allies were fast winding down from the
controversial con ict.
At Easter 1972, the North Vietnamese
Army made a major push.
Mr Ottaway, like so many old soldiers,
is reluctant to provide too many details,
which are perhaps better served over a late
"It was an interesting time to be there
..." he says carefully.
" at was what we trained for. I suspect
that's what we wanted to do, what we
were keen to do. I mean, if you didn't
really feel that, then you were probably
wasting your time joining in the rst
"You can argue about the rights and
wrongs later, but at the time it seemed
like a good challenging thing to do, so you
get on and do it."
After another Singapore posting, and
training roles at Burnham, Waiouru, and
Linton, he completed a top brass training
college in Australia before joining the
New Zealand High Commission in
On his return to New Zealand in 1990,
he took command of the Ready Reaction
at period of his career is one of his
most fond recollections.
"It was then that we really started o
with the deployments that have been the
feature of the last 20 years," the father-of-
two said from his Wellington home.
"Whilst I was there we raised and sent
troops to Bosnia and Somalia. It was a
time when the army changed pace and
took on a somewhat di erent role from
what we'd done earlier on. We just got on
and did it, and I think we did it very well."
e army has evolved and changed with
the times well during in his time, Mr
One of the most important progressions,
he says, has been in the identi cation of
post-traumatic stress disorders su ered
by some returning soldiers and the
professional help that is now available for
" ere is a far greater willingness now to
accept that the consequences of war can
lead to long lasting e ects." Mr Ottaway
was due to retire at the end of the year,
but thought the timing was right.
He will still be involved with the
military, helping organise the Gallipoli
centenary celebrations which will take
place next year.
He also has time to re ect on what has
been one of New Zealand longest, and
impressive, military careers.
"People might look at me and think, 'My
God, he's only had one job his whole life
... ' "But it's not really been like that at
all. I've had as many jobs as most people,
except it's been within one organisation."
Asked what he will remember most
from his time, he is quick with the reply:
"It's been a great organisation to be a part
of, whether you're in uniform or within a
civilian role. It's been very satisfying, all
because of the relationships I've built up
with a huge amount of ne people. You
can't pay money for that."
Brigadier winds up 51 years of service
Brigadier Rick Ottaway
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