Dilworth inquiry finds extensive sexual abuse, violence and bullying over half a century at Auckland school

A damning independent inquiry into sexual and physical abuse at Auckland’s Dilworth School has uncovered a “catalogue of damage and injustice” spanning more than half a century, from 1950 to 2005.

Led by Dame Sylvia Cartwright and Frances Joychild KC, the inquiry found serious failures by the school’s senior leadership and governance. Cartwright and Joychild released their report at a press conference in Auckland on Monday.

It follows the arrest of 12 staff members and other men connected to the school, a Royal Commission public hearing and extensive media reporting.

The report – of over 500 pages – draws on testimony from 171 former students, 30 family members and over 100 former staff. The report’s findings include:

  • Extensive sexual abuse, physical violence and bullying over decades
  • Testimony that the rape of schoolboys “often happened on the altar”
  • Students who reported abuse to senior school staff were called liars and caned
  • The school did not refer abuse to police

The inquiry also reached a fundamental conclusion that “ongoing silence about the sexual abuse recorded in this report is the primary reason for the damage caused to many former students at Dilworth”.

“Regrettably this report is a catalogue of what went wrong, the lifetime of damage it caused to abused students, how that damage might be fixed and an expression of hope that the terrible events of the past will never be repeated.”

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