School leaders have apologised to former students after six men were arrested on charges of historical sex offending at Dilworth School in Auckland.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Dilworth Trust Board chairman Aaron Snodgrass said the school was “truly sorry” for what had allegedly occurred.

Seventeen victims have been identified so far, police said.
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Detective senior sergeant Geoff Baber from Auckland City Police said the criminal investigation branch had been investigating since 2019, when an initial complaint was made.

Further offending and victims had been identified since then, he said.

Baber said the offending occurred across a number of decades, from the 1970s until the 2000s.

The six men who have been charged are aged in their 60s and 70s, and the charges include sexual violation, indecent assault, sexual exploitation and supplying drugs.

“Police are limited in providing any further comment as people are now before the court. We are also mindful of the privacy of the victims involved in these matters,” Baber said.

Dilworth School is a boys’ boarding school in Epsom, central Auckland.

It runs on a scholarship model, providing an education for boys from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Snodgrass said the board was “saddened” to hear of the abuse some of the school’s former students had allegedly suffered.

“We apologise to any old boys who have been affected by any kind of abuse at our school. The board considers all forms of abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse unacceptable,” he said.

“Dilworth has sought not to have the school’s name suppressed in connection with the proceedings as we want to discuss our response openly within our school community and old boys.”

Snodgrass said support services had been made available to former students through the school, including a free listening service and access to counselling.

“We encourage any Dilworth old boy to contact this confidential service if they would like to discuss their experiences with an independent clinical psychologist.

“We fully support anyone wanting to contact the police and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care about any experiences from their time at Dilworth.”

None of the men charged had any current connection with the school, Snodgrass said.

“The board has full confidence in all of Dilworth School’s current employees.”

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, trust board solicitor Gregory Shanahan said it was a long-standing policy of the school to promote openness and transparency.

Snodgrass said bullying, excessive corporal punishment and sexual abuse were among the incidents at the centre of the charges.

Headmaster Dan Reddiex, who was appointed headmaster of the school in 2019, said the alleged offending was both appalling and deeply saddening.

“The Dilworth School I know and lead today has zero tolerance for any abuse. The issue of sexual abuse has cast a dark shadow over our school.”

The men have been granted interim name suppression and are next expected to appear on October 5 and 6 in the Auckland District Court.

Police are encouraging anyone with information to contact them.

A dedicated number to call has been set up on (09) 302 6624 or email Operation.Beverly@police.govt.nz.

“We would like to reassure anyone thinking of contacting police that all information received will be treated in confidence,” Baber said.

The charges

  • A 72-year-old man has been charged with doing an indecent act and three counts of indecent assault
  • A 73-year-old man faces numerous charges relating to sexual violation, indecent assault, sexual exploitation and supplying class A, B and C drugs
  • A 68-year-old man faces a charge of indecent assault and inducing an indecent act
  • A 69-year-old man has been charged with indecent assault
  • A 72-year-old man faces four charges relating to indecent assault
  • A 78-year-old man has been charged with three counts of indecent assault.

By Melanie Earley and George Block
Published in Stuff
14 Sept 2020