Dilworth School abuse: former chaplain jailed 6 years

Ross Browne pleaded guilty to 16 charges, most in relation to indecently assaulting boys between...
Ross Browne pleaded guilty to 16 charges, most in relation to indecently assaulting boys between 1987 and 2004. Photo: RNZ
Warning: This story contains details of sexual abuse and suicide.

A former chaplain and one of Dilworth School's most prolific child sex offenders has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

In October this year, Ross Douglas Browne pleaded guilty at the High Court in Auckland to 16 charges.

In the High Court this morning one victim, now an adult, told Browne what he did flipped his life upside down, created a life-long anxiety and ruined relationships he later had, including his marriage.

Others have said they have lived with serious lingering effects caused by his offending.

The 73-year-old had pleaded guilty to 16 charges, most in relation to indecently assaulting boys aged 12-16 between 1987 and 2004 at the school in Remuera, Auckland.

Eight of his victims were at the High Court today and more watched proceedings via a video call.

The mother of one boy, who could not bear to talk about what happened, said her son became addicted to methamphetamine and told her it was to "numb the pain".

Other victims told the court they had self-harmed or thought of suicide.

One said he had known of multiple former students who had died by suicide after being abused.

Justice Toogood said Browne's offending was premeditated and predatory and sentenced him to six-and-a-half years in prison.

Browne was Dilworth School's chaplain from 1980 to 2006 and the Vicar of the Anglican Parish of Manurewa in South Auckland until he was charged.

He was also involved in youth theatre and a small radio station which young people were involved with.

He is one of 11 men linked to Dilworth School initially charged with historical sexual abuse.

Court documents, which Browne has verified as true, showed that he invited boys to a room next to his office known as the Crypt.

In the Crypt, young boys would often sit on Browne's knee where he touched them inappropriately. He would also offer them massages in their underwear or completely naked, during which he also touched them.

Browne encouraged boys - some as young as 12 years old - to be intimate with each other.

Before leaving the Crypt each day, the boys would be expected to hug Browne.

Separately, in the classroom, Browne ran a "Christian Living Class" where he encouraged boys to openly masturbate during the lesson.

He told them if they were aroused, "it was fine for them to masturbate in the class". Up to 15 boys at a time did. This happened on multiple occasions, which the court documents say resulted in a "normalising" of the behaviour.

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