Dilworth School Board says convictions have resulted from previously reported sex abuse allegations

3:44 pm on 17 September 2020

The school at the centre of an historical sex abuse investigation says it has previously reported allegations of sexual abuse to the police which have resulted in convictions.

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Seven men with links to Dilworth School in Auckland have been arrested on charges of indecent assault, sexual violation and supplying prohibited drugs.

The charges relate to offences spanning four decades involving 17 victims at the boy's Anglican boarding school.

In a statement, Dilworth Trust Board chair Aaron Snodgrass said he was unable to comment on the specifics of these charges while the matters were before the court.

But he acknowledged its past procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse did not meet the standards of today.

Snodgrass said that the "school has, both in the past and today, reported allegations of sexual abuse to the police, some resulting in convictions."

The school has refused to give RNZ any more details about the convictions.

Snodgrass said that in 2018, the school engaged experts to advise its board on abuse prevention and reporting practices.

From this review, it acknowledged the way the school had previously dealt with abuse allegations was not to the standard expected today.

Snodgrass said he apologised to previous students and that significant improvements have since been made.

"Over the years, there has been a continual evolution of the school's understanding and processes to deal with allegations of abuse," he said.

"This has come with the assistance of expert advisors and the findings of international inquiries, and significant improvements have been made to the school's policies and procedures to help ensure we're providing the safest possible environment for our students.

Snodgrass said the school wanted to discuss the issue of historical abuse openly to encourage survivors of abuse to come forward.

"This is why we actively sought to have suppression of Dilworth's name waived in connection with the proceedings currently before the court."

He said a free, confidential listening service was available for ex-students to discuss their experiences with an independent clinical psychologist.

Old Boys could also share their experiences at Dilworth with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care or make a complaint with police.

The school said it would not be responding to any further questions because its focus was on its staff, students, parents, the wider school community, and particularly its Old Boys.

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