Former Dilworth School chaplain sentenced to prison for sexual offending

A former Dilworth school Chaplain has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after admitting historical sexual offending against students. 

Ross Douglas Browne pleaded guilty to 16 charges in October this year. 

They include 13 charges of indecent assault on boys, one charge of unlawful sexual connection, one of inducing a boy under 12 to do an indecent act, and a charge of possessing an objectionable publication. 

On Thursday, the now 73-year-old was sentenced at the High Court in Auckland, where a number of victim impact statements were read to the court.

"Ross, your offending turned my life upside down," one of the men said. 

"When I met you as a young boy, you were the most enormous person I'd ever seen and I looked up to you. 

"You were there to protect and guide, and all you did was protect your own perverted interests," he told the court.  

Another victim said that for 28 years he had felt the lingering shadow of the abuse he experienced. 

"You roamed the school as if God himself, you had an air of righteousness about you," he said to Browne. 

Another victim spoke of how he dreaded returning to school every weekend, and begged his family to let him leave Dilworth. 

The court also heard how many of the victims had since suffered from substance abuse, struggles in their relationships, and difficulties with their mental health. 

In sentencing Browne, Justice Kit Toogood described his behaviour as grossly abusive, explaining that it was often directed towards vulnerable students who had come from families with separated parents, or who were orphans. 

"It is inevitable that many more pupils than the fourteen brave souls who have come forward in this case, were affected by your behaviour," Justice Toogood said.  

Dilworth Allegations 

In September 2020, police announced an investigation into alleged historical sexual offending at Auckland Anglican School Dilworth between 1976 and 2006.

Earlier this year, a former Assistant Principal Ian Robert Wilson, was jailed for three years and seven months for indecently assaulting young boys, after pleading guilty. 

Three other men accused of sexual offending at the school, Rex Clarence McIntosh, Richard Charles Galloway, and Keith William Dixon, have since died. 

All three men denied the sexual abuse allegations against them. 

Another group of men are due to stand trial for alleged offending, after denying further sexual offending charges.

'We deeply regret what occurred in our past'

On Thursday, Dilworth Trust Board Chair Aaron Snodgrass sent a video message to former Dilworth students, following the sentencing.

"The impact of Ross Browne's offending on our community has been far-reaching and should never have happened," he said.

"When concerns regarding Ross Browne's teaching methods and over-familiarity with students were initially raised by staff, students and parents; these weren't followed through, and our response was inadequate.

"We did not listen to their voices in the same way as we do today." 

Snodgrass said Browne was stood down in 2005 after complaints from former students, and then asked to resign in early 2006.

The Anglican Diocese of Auckland and New Zealand Teachers' Council were notified, and Dilworth petitioned the Teachers' Council for his teaching certificate to be withdrawn. 

"What this process has made clear, is that our systems and procedures at that time for dealing with such complaints were insufficient and more stringent action should have been taken," the video message said. 

"We apologise to the survivors of Ross Browne's abuse, their families, and all of our Old Boys for this.

"We deeply regret what occurred in our past."

Where to find help and support: