Dilworth School sex assault investigation: 30 alleged abusers

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At least 30 people have now been accused of historic sexual abuse at Dilworth School – including students who allegedly offended against younger classmates.

While 11 former staff members – including tutors, house and scoutmasters and a priest – have been charged as part of the inquiry, the Herald can reveal that the real number of people who allegedly abused students is far higher, and many were pupils themselves.

Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Barber said there have been 14 allegations of “student on student” offending reported as part of the investigation, which is known as Operation Beverly.

The allegations against former staff and students, which have been made by more than 100 former pupils, go as far back as the 1960s and well into the early 2000s.

Barber said allegations have also been made against an additional nine men who had died before the investigation began.

That brings the number of people who are accused of sexual abuse to at least 30 – a number that has come as no surprise to some of the survivors.

“The Dilworth class action represents over 100 survivors of sexual abuse at Dilworth. We know from the information provided to us by them and others that the scale of the abuse that was allowed to occur at the school… was extensive and appalling,” said Neil Harding, who is leading the charge on a class action against the school.

“We believe the information that has been made public about the abusers and the number of survivors is just the tip of the iceberg.”

One man, who wants to be known as ‘Eoin Duncan’ to protect his identity, was abused by an older student in the 1960s.

He told the Herald the number of abusers that have come to the attention of police was “horrific”.

While he thought he was the only one abused at the time, he’s since learned how widespread the abuse was. He is no longer surprised that allegations have been made against so many former students and staff.

Duncan was forced to commit an indecent act on a senior student on several occasions before things escalated to attempted rape, which another student walked in on.

When he tried to tell his housemaster he was threatened with the cane and told to go back to bed.

Another student, who has also spoken to police, told the Herald he was touched inappropriately by another student on numerous occasions in the early 2000s.

The abuse often happened in the dorms and in the evenings.

One of the 14 students who allegedly abused classmates has been charged so far. He is still before the courts.

Barber said the allegations against the other 13 students have not gone any further at this stage due to a lack of evidential sufficiency, the offenders had died, the complainants could not identify their offender or the complainant wanted to report the matter but did not want the offender charged for a variety of reason.

Asked for comment, Dilworth Trust Board chair Aaron Snodgrass encouraged anyone who suffered abuse at the school to come forward and make a complaint to police and a statement to the Royal Commission of Inquiry, regardless of whether it happened at the hands of staff or students.

“We also continue to encourage them to take advantage of the free and confidential Listening Service by contacting [email protected]

Last week former vicar Ross Browne was sent to jail for six and a half years after pleading guilty to the abuse of 14 boys and teens between 1987 and 2002.

The 73-year-old was appointed chaplain at Dilworth in 1979 and has been heavily involved in Scouts, amateur theatrical company the Auckland Gang Show and was the vicar of St Luke’s Church in Manurewa at the time of his arrest.

His sentencing comes after former housemaster Ian Wilson was jailed earlier this year for three years and seven months for indecently assaulting five students between 1975 and 1992 – some of them more than once and over a period of several years.

Anyone with more information about the abuse at Dilworth can contact the Operation Beverly team on (09) 302 6624 or by emailing [email protected]

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