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Catholic brother Rodger William Moloney has been found guilty of seven charges of sexually abusing boys at the former Marylands special school in Christchurch near Halswell in the 1970s.
He is on bail awaiting sentence.
After a day-and-a-half of deliberations, a jury in the High Court at Christchurch delivered its verdicts at 6.15pm, finding the 73-year-old guilty on seven but acquitting him on the remaining 16 charges.
The guilty verdicts relate to indecencies with five complainants who were pupils at the school for special needs boys. There are three charges of indecent assault and four of inducing boys to do an indecent act - touching his penis.
The acquittals related to other charges of indecent assault, inducing an indecent act, and two involving sodomy.
Justice Graham Panckhurst granted bail to Moloney, for him to live at a Christchurch address awaiting sentence while a pre-sentence report is prepared, and to report to the police weekly. He has already had to surrender his passport.
The delivery of the verdicts began with 15 aquittals, and then all the guilty verdicts together, and one final acquittal. Moloney stood in the dock with his eyes closed as the verdicts were delivered.
As soon as the last was given, Ken Clearwater, manager of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, ran from the room in tears.
He spoke to media outside the courthouse about how difficult the decisions must have been for the jury because of the length of time that had passed since the offending, and the fact that the complainants were all disabled.
"If the men were able to articulate themselves like you and I, I think there would have been guilty verdicts on every charge," he said.
The guilty verdicts were pleasing for the complainants, who had now finally been able to have their say about what had happened at Marylands School.
It was long past time that the Government had an inquiry into abuses at the school. He had put that request in front of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General and would keep on pressing for agreement.
"It was horrendous what happened at that school," he said.
He said the complainants would be "pretty upset" that Moloney had been allowed bail pending sentencing. They had been through "horrendous trauma".
He accepted that the Order of John of God head in Australasia at the time the abuses surfaced, Brother Peter Burke, had responded in the only way he knew how to handle the matter. But he said the order was still living in a culture of denial and it had been ridiculous for church officials to come to the trial and deny corporal punishment had taken place.
Justice Panckhurst said Moloney should not take any message about the likely sentence from the fact that he was granted bail.
Crown prosecutor Chris Lange had opposed it being granted.