Ellis was just two months away from a supreme court hearing which may have vindicated him of historic sex convictions.
Peter Ellis has died aged 61 after a battle against bladder cancer.
Ellis was convicted in 1993 of 13 counts of sexually abusing children at Christchurch Civic Centre.
He was sentenced to 10 years and served seven always maintaining his innocence.
Allegations from at least seven young children claim Ellis buried them alive, made them dance naked, and placed them in an oven.
A number of lawyers, journalists and academics have cited homophobia as a major contributing factor towards Ellis’ convictions.
Speaking to stuff.co.nz, Lynley Hood, whose 2001 book A City Possessed concluded Ellis was innocent, said she was disappointed he did not survive to see his Supreme Court appeal.
“Even though we were expecting it, it’s still a shock … there are far wider issues involved. Twelve childcare workers had lost their jobs and unblemished reputations. He was so dignified and never blamed the children. He really cared about them.
“Peter’s big worry was the [complainant] children needed to know they weren’t abused.”
In July, he filed an application for leave to appeal his remaining convictions to the Supreme Court.
In his last interview last month, Ellis told Mike Hosking he was “feeling quite excited” about the impending hearing but hoped to live to see it happen.
“Somebody said to me ‘it looks like the crèche case is pulling into the station’ and I said, ‘well I hope my train isn’t going out first’.”
Ellis’ defence team have indicated they wish to have the case heard despite Ellis’ passing. Ellis has twice appealed to the Court of Appeal, the second time after a referral by the Governor-General.
Three of his convictions were thrown out on the first appeal, but the second appeal against the remaining 13 convictions was dismissed in 1999.